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René Blum and the Ballets RussesIn Search of a Lost Life$
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Judith Chazin-Bennahum

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195399332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399332.001.0001

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The Great War and René Blum

The Great War and René Blum

(p.61) Chapter 4 The Great War and René Blum
René Blum and the Ballets Russes

Judith Chazin-Bennahum

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the short journal memoir that Blum kept after he enlisted in the army as an English interpreter for a British division in World War I. It discloses the wording of the Croix de Guerre award that Blum received after the war honoring his courage and fearlessness. Many of Blum’s artist and writer friends joined the war effort and several were injured and died. The chapter discusses Blum’s letters to friends during the war that recount his fears and the horrors of the war experience. It also refers to Blum’s day-to-day journal recounting the boring and sometimes senseless activities that soldiers endured during the war. The journal describes how they were shipped back and forth to Rouen and Le Havre, without purpose, and details the superb accommodations of English soldiers and the poor conditions under which the Belgian soldiers fared. Blum’s musings on the youthful soldiers and their dismay and confusion are also revealed. Searching daily for comfortable places to sleep seemed to occupy much of the young men’s time. Above all, the text explores the events that war seems to engender and leaves off before the true violence and carnage of trench warfare. It also stops short of René’s discovery that his brother Marcel suffered terribly as a prisoner of war.

Keywords:   World War I, journal memoir, Croix de Guerre, World War I and writers, war and misery

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