Directions in Contemporary Literature

Directions in Contemporary Literature

Directions in Contemporary Literature

Directions in Contemporary Literature

Excerpt

FEAR

'What must we have to keep us safe from fear?' -- Jules Romains, MEN OF GOOD WILL

In an early volume of Jules Romains Men of Good Will there is a sentence that will awaken reverberations of memory in all who have lived during the climax of crises that has been the story of the past twenty years. The two youths Jerphanion and Jallez, one of them Romains himself, are talking of the future, which even in the years before the first Great War was none too hopeful. They are talking of the future and some faith to which they can dedicate themselves: where can they find a motive to which they can dedicate their throbbing lives? 'What must we have to keep us safe from fear?'

Safety from fear--is not this after all the motive behind every projected new deal, whether it be the gospel of Fascism proclaimed by Mussolini and his Black Shirts in '22 when they marched on Rome to rid Italy of the specter of Communism, or the motive earlier that blew up the Tsar and gave Russia the dictatorship of the Proletariat and the purges of Stalin? Something secure and tangible, a creed and a personality that will restore confidence and security in a world that seems devoted to chaos? Even Hitlerism, with its central doctrine of pride and hate, caught the imagination of Germany because it offered a motto and a motive to German youth when no other motive seemed at hand to exorcise fear. It is significant that all these revolutions have been accomplished by militant youth inflamed by a new hope in a crusade against fear.

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