Le Collier rouge
Dans une petite ville du Berry, écrasée par la chaleur de l'été, en 1919, un héros de la guerre est retenu prisonnier au fond d'une caserne déserte. Devant la porte, son chien tout cabossé aboie jour et nuit. Non loin de là, dans la campagne, une jeune femme usée par le travail de la terre, trop instruite cependant pour être une simple paysanne, attend et espère. Le juge qui arrive pour démêler cette affaire est un aristocrate dont la guerre a fait vaciller les principes. Trois personnages et, au milieu d'eux, un chien, qui détient la clef du drame... Plein de poésie et de vie, ce court récit, d'une fulgurante simplicité, est aussi un grand roman sur la fidélité. Etre loyal à ses amis, se battre pour ceux qu'on aime, est une qualité que nous partageons avec les bêtes. Le propre de l'être humain n'est-il pas d'aller au-delà et de pouvoir aussi reconnaître le frère en celui qui vous combat ?

Le Collier rouge Details

TitleLe Collier rouge
Author
LanguageFrench
ReleaseFeb 27th, 2014
PublisherGallimard
ISBN-139782070137978
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, France

Le Collier rouge Review

  • Ilse
    January 1, 1970
    No more parades The Great War enduringly excites literary imagination, ever growing the abundant library of books with WWI as main stage or décor. Apart from the few history books I read on it, Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night and Ford Madox Ford’s Parade's End, both masterpieces inspired by the Great War, significantly colored the ideas and images on it in my mind, as did Tardi’s stunning but gruesome graphic novel It Was the War of the Trenches.Although I am well aware I still have t No more parades The Great War enduringly excites literary imagination, ever growing the abundant library of books with WWI as main stage or décor. Apart from the few history books I read on it, Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night and Ford Madox Ford’s Parade's End, both masterpieces inspired by the Great War, significantly colored the ideas and images on it in my mind, as did Tardi’s stunning but gruesome graphic novel It Was the War of the Trenches.Although I am well aware I still have to read almost the whole pile of the WWI literary canon (Barbusse, Graves, Remarque, Jünger, And Quiet Flows the Don by Sholokhov…), it is sheer impossible to ignore entirely the flood of more contemporary novels and not to try a few of the most recent ones, cunningly published in the wake of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI in 2014.From the more contemporary novels, Grey Souls by Philippe Claudel and Courrier des tranchées by the Flemish writer Stefan Brijs (recently translated into French) were memorable stories. A recent fairly good, be it rather traditional read was the debut novel Woesten by Kris van Steenberge (not translated yet). The graphic novel Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who Ignited World War I by Henrik Rehr was worthwhile too. My ’real life’ reading group scheduled Stefan Hertmans’s Guerre et térébenthine, a prizewinning WWI novel published in 2013, for June. I frowned at Sebastians Faulks’s Birdsong . 14 by Jean Echenoz was a nice read, but didn’t really sink in. Rufin has to be lauded for his luminous idea to stay out of the well-known trenches and moving his war scenes to a lesser known front and a lesser known part of war history. This time, the setting is not the Western Front - the Somme, the Marne, Verdun or Ypres – which is refreshing. We are thrown into the Salonika Campaign, at the Eastern Front, the Balkan, where the Allies sent French and English troops to assist the Serbs ( together with the Russians, Romanians, Greeks and Italians) to fight the Bulgarians and the other Central powers - an episode of WWI which was of vital importance to the final outcome of the war (fact I was not sufficiently aware of). Rufin’s novel also encourages to commemorate the suffering of the masses of animals which served in the war, for transport, logistics and communications , which reminded me of a poignant, horrible battlefield scene in Flaubert’s Salammbô [recalling the elephant shrieking all night because a spear got stuck in his eye, while no warrior could get near to the animal to put him out of his misery]. Of the 16 million animal soldiers on both sides, dogs, horses, carrier pigeons, mules, donkeys, camels, 9 million died. (Coming to the content of the book, a small warning: please do not take a look at the jacket of this short novel if you consider reading it (I do not understand what was eating the publishers giving away such a key element of the plot before one can even open the book)).Post WW I France, Summer, 1919, the Berry region. The central storyline is about Jacques Morlac, a young decorated war hero, taken in custody. What did he do, and why does he almost insist on his conviction, even risking the death penalty? The nature of his crime and his motives are unraveled in dribs and drabs through the novel, in the careful pace of the investigation by the interrogating judge, Hughes Lantier du Grez, a military officer working on his last case before finally returning home after years of absence due to military service. Both, prisoner and investigator, are demobilized soldiers, returning to what is left of ‘normal’ civilian life in the aftermath of the bloody massacre of WWI. Morlac is an angry and disillusioned man, a farmer who’s political awareness was awakened by reading anarchist and communist books, but mostly by love. Slowly, in the huis clos atmosphere of the former barracks, lively dialogues between the two veterans reveal their innermost thoughts, their own precious beliefs and observations on their war experiences. And outside there is the scruffy dog, Morlac’s loyal companion, barking incessantly, who had followed Morlac throughout the whole war, eventually treated as a mascot by Morlac’s regiment, injured and furrowed by the battles, but completely disregarded by Morlac. Jean-Christophe Rufin, a founder of Médecins sans frontières and former winner of the Goncourt, wrote a charming story, gracefully constructed around a true life anecdote. His limpid, spare prose wonderfully accords with his excellent psychological portraiture of the characters. A film adaptation of this novel was released in March 2018 (by the French director Jean Becker). As a unadulterated cat person, I am fairly sure this novel probably would appeal more to dog lovers, or bipetual persons. Perhaps because of my shortcomings in basic canine psychology, Rufin’s exploration of the parallels in human and animal loyalty, relating this to at times conflicting human values like integrity and fraternity transcending blind obedience of orders, didn’t wholly resonate with me. (And frankly, the old pasionaria in me grumbled at Rufin’s ruthless demystifying of revolutionary zeal, reducing it a little facile to petty personal motives underlying people’s actions and behavior. But that is just a personal character flaw).
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  • Tamara Agha-Jaffar
    January 1, 1970
    The Red Collar: A Novel by Jean-Christophe Rufin, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter, is a novella with a straightforward plot and few characters.The year is 1919 in a small town in France. A young man is in a military prison for committing an unspecified crime after the end of the war. His mangy, battle-scarred dog is outside, barking incessantly for his master. Along comes a military lawyer who is tasked with investigating the man’s crime and determining his fate. Added to the mix is The Red Collar: A Novel by Jean-Christophe Rufin, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter, is a novella with a straightforward plot and few characters.The year is 1919 in a small town in France. A young man is in a military prison for committing an unspecified crime after the end of the war. His mangy, battle-scarred dog is outside, barking incessantly for his master. Along comes a military lawyer who is tasked with investigating the man’s crime and determining his fate. Added to the mix is the young man’s former lover and the father of his young child.In the sweltering heat, the lawyer questions the prisoner and slowly unravels the story of his participation in the different campaigns during the war. We learn of the prisoner’s increasing disenchantment with the war, of the incompetence of military commanders, of the sheer drudgery and apparent futility of troop movements, and of the nascent stirrings of communism within the ranks. We learn the dog never leaves his master’s side and witnesses and/or actively participates in the some of the campaigns. He is loyal to his master and singularly focused on saving his life.As the narrative unravels, we learn about the prisoner’s commendation as a hero of the war. We learn of the role the dog played in a crucial campaign. And, finally, we learn of the “crime” for which the prisoner faces the death sentence. The plot is simple, simply told, and with few characters. But what emerges from this simple narrative is a moving illustration of the meaning of love, loyalty, integrity, and sacrifice in times of crisis. Rufin, a founder of the humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, and winner of the 1997 Goncourt Prize for a debut novel, has constructed a poignant novella based on a true-life anecdote revealed to him by a former colleague. He turns his lens away from the trenches of World War I to the women, children, and animals who suffer during a war. He reminds us of the indiscriminate impact of war. It is not just the men, women, and animals serving on the battle lines who are indelibly scarred by war. War also scars those who are left behind to pick up the pieces and who struggle with whatever semblance of normalcy they can salvage after the devastating loss of loved ones.Highly recommended for the simplicity and subtlety with which it conveys the enduring aftermath of war.
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  • Leila Karaca
    January 1, 1970
    I had to read this book for school for French. So I was supposed to read this book in French, but I actually read it in English. I know, shame on me, but at least I understood the book this way. That is why I can admit, this book wasn't too bad.I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing. I had to read it anyway, whether I liked it or not, so why bother, right? I just knew it was about a guy, Morlac, who was locked up in prison around world war I time. And well, after reading the book, tha I had to read this book for school for French. So I was supposed to read this book in French, but I actually read it in English. I know, shame on me, but at least I understood the book this way. That is why I can admit, this book wasn't too bad.I went into this book knowing pretty much nothing. I had to read it anyway, whether I liked it or not, so why bother, right? I just knew it was about a guy, Morlac, who was locked up in prison around world war I time. And well, after reading the book, that was basically it. We don't know why Morlac was in prison at the beginning of the book. I liked following Lantier, the judge/major, investigating Morlac's case and slowly finding out what happened. And books where you slowly find out what happens are my favourite kind of books. At the end this book got quite deep when we found out Morlac's entire story. Jean-Christophe Rufin said some interesting things about the war and human nature.This book was okay, but I have to admit I'd rather I could've taken the time it took to read this book to read one of my 'own' books.
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  • Martje
    January 1, 1970
    Well that was tedious... It got better towards the end, though once the action of the book wasn't limited to a barking dog anymore.
  • Roger Brunyate
    January 1, 1970
    What Happened on Bastille Day? "Do you know he's in prison?""No. What's he done?""Something stupid, on Bastille Day." A nice serendipity to be reviewing this fascinating French novella on Bastille Day itself! I sensed this was something special from the moment I opened it. It is one of those lovely Europa Editions that feels good in the hand and is set so generously on the page. It is a simple story with only two main characters, both warmly developed. The setting is an almost empty prison in a What Happened on Bastille Day? "Do you know he's in prison?""No. What's he done?""Something stupid, on Bastille Day." A nice serendipity to be reviewing this fascinating French novella on Bastille Day itself! I sensed this was something special from the moment I opened it. It is one of those lovely Europa Editions that feels good in the hand and is set so generously on the page. It is a simple story with only two main characters, both warmly developed. The setting is an almost empty prison in a small French town, in the dog days of 1919, yet I had the growing sense that the book dealt with themes of great importance—a sense that increased until almost the very end. And all this in prose, smoothly translated by Adriana Hunter, that is as straightforward yet evocative as a novel by Simenon; here is how it begins: At one o'clock in the afternoon, with the crushing heat over the town. the dog's howling was unbearable. The animal had been there on the Place Michelet for two days, and for two days it had barked. It was a big, brown, shorthaired dog with no collar and a torn ear. It wailed methodically, more or less once every three seconds, making a deep sound that was enough to drive you mad. I won't say much about the plot, for this is a mystery of a kind. Only not a whodunnit; the who is perfectly obvious. This is a military prison and there is only one remaining prisoner, Jacques Pierre Marcel Morlac, corporal, aged 28. His investigating officer, Hugues Lantier de Grez, is hardly much older. After a career as military lawyer during the war, he is about to retire to private practice, but he just has this one crime to tidy up first. Only for almost the entire length of the book, we are not told what it was. This is a very unusual kind of mystery: not a whodunnit but a whatwasit.We know it is serious; there is talk of the death penalty. Lantier is prepared to be lenient, but Morlac will not compromise; he is proud of whatever he has done, and does not wish it whitewashed over. Lantier, one of the most attractive characters I have encountered for some time, is a patient and gentle man. In the course of his interrogations over the next few days, he will follow Morlac's career from farm boy to decorated veteran on the Eastern Front (Northern Greece and the Dardanelles), touching some of the darker aspects that Bastille Day patriotism would prefer to remain hidden: the incompetence of the French command, senseless slaughter, disintegration of army morale, and the first stirrings of Communism. I have encountered these themes before in other French novels about the aftermath of the 14–18 War— Fear by Gabriel Chevalier and Au revoir là-haut by Pierre Lemaitre—but never with the succinct compression shown by Rufin. He is also unique in tying it so beautifully to the rural setting, the France for which they were all fighting. In between interviews, Lantier will go out into the countryside, meeting people who knew Morlac before he was conscripted. And he will see more of that battle-scarred dog, who has followed his master ever since he was snatched away from the fields he loved.The photo of the sad-eyed mutt on the cover made me feel that this would be a sentimental animal book. But Rufin knows better than that. As the winner of the Goncourt Prize for a debut novel, he certainly has the writing chops, and as one of the founders of Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders), his humanity is tempered with hard practicality. The further I went into the book, the more I was amazed by Rufin's clear-headedness. But eventually we do need to learn the details of Morlac's crime, and once we do, the motor of the story no longer runs. In the last dozen pages, I felt a softness creep in for the first time. Though it had little to do with that dog, it was enough to keep me (just) from giving five stars to a novella which up to then had been quite extraordinary. Yet it may be exactly the ending that is needed to make the book a popular success.
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  • Shawn
    January 1, 1970
    I'll likely appreciate this more after my book group discussion. For me, however, the rating is closer to 2.5 stars than 3. It is a novella, but felt somewhat protracted. A World War I "hero" imprisoned for an act of subversion. You don't learn what that is or his reasons for the act until the very end of the story. By that time, I was teetering on the brink of not caring. Ultimately a love story, but took a very circuitous route to say so. I had higher hopes for this one than it delivered, unfo I'll likely appreciate this more after my book group discussion. For me, however, the rating is closer to 2.5 stars than 3. It is a novella, but felt somewhat protracted. A World War I "hero" imprisoned for an act of subversion. You don't learn what that is or his reasons for the act until the very end of the story. By that time, I was teetering on the brink of not caring. Ultimately a love story, but took a very circuitous route to say so. I had higher hopes for this one than it delivered, unfortunately. Leaves me wondering if, perhaps, some of the power was lost in translation.
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  • Mae
    January 1, 1970
    FANTASTIC.This little book is a jewel. Marvelously written.It is the story of a young man during WWI. He was a farm boy who was taken by the local military recruiters and sent to war. He was uneducated like all the farm boys of his area, and had no idea what the war was about, he just knew that one day they were going to pick him up. As it was, he was at his girlfriends house when they came for him, her dog just followed him. Apparently that was not abnormal during wars, dogs fought along their FANTASTIC.This little book is a jewel. Marvelously written.It is the story of a young man during WWI. He was a farm boy who was taken by the local military recruiters and sent to war. He was uneducated like all the farm boys of his area, and had no idea what the war was about, he just knew that one day they were going to pick him up. As it was, he was at his girlfriends house when they came for him, her dog just followed him. Apparently that was not abnormal during wars, dogs fought along their owners. In this case they both survived the three or four years of warmongering.Something happens when he returns, and we catch him in prison and the dog is outside barking incessantly. A judge is sent to take care of his case and the first thing he finds out is that no one in the village seems disturbed by the dog.This is a story about the horrors of war, the survival and the victims, which in many cases are the families that stay back home. But more than anything it is the story about the power of books, love and loyalty within the horrific framework of war and war torn families and countries. It is a story about the triumph of the human spirit. But it is also a story about dogs and what they mean to us.
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  • Pascale
    January 1, 1970
    A moving novella highlighting the toll of WWI on the soldiers who were conscripted. From anybody else than Rufin, I would surmise an opportunistic reason for bringing out such a tale as the commemoration of the various stages of the first world war are underway. I expect this well-crafted story will become a set text in schools, and why not? There is a satisfying element of mystery since for many chapters, not only are we kept in the dark about the veteran's motivations for the act that landed h A moving novella highlighting the toll of WWI on the soldiers who were conscripted. From anybody else than Rufin, I would surmise an opportunistic reason for bringing out such a tale as the commemoration of the various stages of the first world war are underway. I expect this well-crafted story will become a set text in schools, and why not? There is a satisfying element of mystery since for many chapters, not only are we kept in the dark about the veteran's motivations for the act that landed him in prison, but we don't even know exactly what he did, although the illustration on the jacket gives a pretty solid clue.
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  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    This book is not so much about loyalty as it is a man's pride stemmed from his own stupidity. It's not what you'd expect; Humanity is the tale, and the dog is just the tie that binds it all together. Not a bad book, but open ended and leaves you thinking.
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  • Evelyn
    January 1, 1970
    A unique book that held my attention. I liked the way the combat on WW I was described. I'm a dog lover and I loved the ending!
  • Jessica T.
    January 1, 1970
    This was based on a story his friend told him about his grandfather... but the questions it proposes is still valid today... what is loyalty?
  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely small book readable in one sitting, that makes you feel and think.
  • Antenna
    January 1, 1970
    In the small French town of Berry where life is returning to normal after the First World War, Jacques Morlac is the only prisoner left in the barracks, while his faithful dog Guillaume, somewhat battered after his own spell in the trenches, barks mournfully for his master for hours on end. Lantier, the bourgeois young judge appointed to investigate the case and decide Morlac’s fate is fascinated by the stubborn working class man who has a foot in both camps, having been decorated for bravery on In the small French town of Berry where life is returning to normal after the First World War, Jacques Morlac is the only prisoner left in the barracks, while his faithful dog Guillaume, somewhat battered after his own spell in the trenches, barks mournfully for his master for hours on end. Lantier, the bourgeois young judge appointed to investigate the case and decide Morlac’s fate is fascinated by the stubborn working class man who has a foot in both camps, having been decorated for bravery only to commit an "outrage" against his nation, although we have to wait until the final pages to discover exactly what Morlac has done. Apart from the suspense this generates, the interest lies in the surrounding questions. What motivated Morlac to act as he did? Why does he seems so bent on being punished, rejecting the extenuating circumstances Lantier suggests? Why is he avoiding his former lover when he clearly wishes to see the son she has borne him? And why does he appear to hate his faithful dog?This is one of those carefully constructed tales which depend totally on how the information is dripped out to keep us hooked. Rufin, who seems more in his element with short stories and in this case what is almost a novella, is very skilful in the deceptive ease with which he spins out and reveals a simple plot which could be summarised in a few words, itself inspired by a colleague’s anecdote about his grandfather.Although the English translation has been praised, this is particularly worth reading in the original French if possible for the clear, economical prose which captures a sense of rural France, with locals spearing trout or hurrying to harvest the wheat as autumn storms threaten. This is also a subtle exploration of human – and canine – psychology: issues of loyalty, duty, wounded pride, jealousy, questioning of the accepted system and traditional class divides. Cynicism lurks beneath the lip service paid to patriotism even in a conformist like Lanvier, set off to fight as a "youthful idealist", only to end with the private subversive thought that the suffering of the soldiers seems more worthy of respect than the ideals of those who inflicted it upon them. “No one could have lived through ths war and still believe that the individual has any value”. Yet when it came to condemning people, justify required that they be presented to him as individuals.”Even if one is not a dog lover, it is hard not to be moved by the rapport Lanvier in fact everyone apart from Morlac seems to develop with the dog. Although the description of his wounds make Guillaume sound almost repulsive, his eyes are remarkably expressive, not merely conveying his own emotion but seeming to empathise with others.
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  • Phil
    January 1, 1970
    The Red Collar is set in 1919 just after World War I. Lantier has been sent to the Berry region by the army to investigate a decorated war hero Morlac who has been arrested and at held at the barracks in town where the make shift prison was set for people who committed crimes against the country. As he arrives to the endless barking of a dog outside the prison, the dog of the prisoner. The dog is persistent despite the heat that seems to have put all movement in the village to a haltWhat we see The Red Collar is set in 1919 just after World War I. Lantier has been sent to the Berry region by the army to investigate a decorated war hero Morlac who has been arrested and at held at the barracks in town where the make shift prison was set for people who committed crimes against the country. As he arrives to the endless barking of a dog outside the prison, the dog of the prisoner. The dog is persistent despite the heat that seems to have put all movement in the village to a haltWhat we see unravel is the story of scars of a country left by the great war. Morlac, a son of a farmer, served firstly in France requisitioning farm supplies for the army and then sent to Greece earning a decoration, the dog had followed him to war, becoming his units mascot. Meanwhile Lantier had served in Northern France.For me, this bears a little bit in similarity to Where I left My Soul by Jerome Ferrari, that's a bad thing or a criticism, they just have a similar plot being about the relationship between interrogator and prisoner. While in Ferrari's book, there is no doubt why the prisoner is held, in this Rufin works masterfully on the suspense of it for the reason that Morlac is held as a prisoner and he slowly lets the story unwind. There is also a little in the narrative as a nod to the war poets. (The author Rufin has done quite a bit with Medisans Sans Frontiers so he is experienced in terms of conflict too)Rufin shows an adept hand at building the images of the situation and in making an engrossing novel which I found captivating and din't want to put it down. on the day of reading, I planned to stop at 11pm (Parks & Recreation was on ;) )but decided instead to keep reading and finish the last 40 pages of it. Being a short novel at 150 or so pages, it did help but at the same time, I didn't want to stop and put it down, I wanted to get to the end, finish it as I was so captivated by Rufin's writing. I think my main reason for breaks from reading was to look up pieces about the salonika front in World War I as my knowledge in that regard was a little bit lacking.I think Rufin has done a superb job on this novel and Adriana Hunter in her translation of it.
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  • Suziqoregon
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsA friend recommended this novella and I'm so glad I paid attention. It's very good.The setting is a small town in France during a hot summer after World War I. A former soldier is in jail. An investigating officer has arrived to question the soldier. An old dog is outside barking incessantly. The question of why this man is in jail is not answered until near the end of the novella. The story is doled out slowly as the investigating officer gives the prisoner every chance he can to apolo 4.5 starsA friend recommended this novella and I'm so glad I paid attention. It's very good.The setting is a small town in France during a hot summer after World War I. A former soldier is in jail. An investigating officer has arrived to question the soldier. An old dog is outside barking incessantly. The question of why this man is in jail is not answered until near the end of the novella. The story is doled out slowly as the investigating officer gives the prisoner every chance he can to apologize for or give an excuse for his unnamed offense. The prisoner refuses. The officer also interviews a young woman who lives outside of town and has known the prisoner for many years. These three people and the dog are the core of the story that is beautifully and intricately told in just over 150 pages. I highly recommend this one.
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  • Nuha
    January 1, 1970
    Le Collier rouge- Christophe Rufin.A unique book that held my attention. I found it more interesting when I knew that its based on a true story his friend told him about his grandfather.I'm not sure why I can't give this novel full five stars, or even four ! .. there was something missing.. but with all that,, it was my honour to read something written by Christophe Rufin.
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  • Abdelkhalek Al Zohbi
    January 1, 1970
    Humanity ... when the agreed to end up a war. I enjoyed every word in this novel and and how the things ended ... In the end a Human is different from The Animal. After finishing this Novel I asked myself ... Why the war ?
  • Delacey
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was beautiful.
  • Janie
    January 1, 1970
    World War I story based on an anecdote told to the author by a friend. Very well written.
  • Sangeeta Dhawan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a title perfect for those interested in reviving their French skills, easy to read and engaging at the same timer.
  • SFrick
    January 1, 1970
    Not sure if I would read another of the author's books as this one was a little odd for me.
  • Keith Sickle
    January 1, 1970
    Another terrific book by Rufin. The story moves quickly and is beautifully written, with a few small twists and turns. Best of all, it makes you think.
  • Pam
    January 1, 1970
    A charming well written straightforward novel set in a small French town at the end of World War 1. Examining what makes us human and the concepts of loyalty and love.
  • Dana Clinton
    January 1, 1970
    It has taken me a while to post a book review as I have been too sleepy from pain meds after my knee replacement surgery to focus on a screen or book for long, but I actually finished this little gem (Le Collier Rouge, by Jean-Christophe Rufin) the day after the surgery, before the pain settled in and forced me onto heavier drugs! This book was a gift from my dear friends Dominique and Pascale when I left France July 2nd. The red collar is worn by an old dog and carries the medal of the Legion o It has taken me a while to post a book review as I have been too sleepy from pain meds after my knee replacement surgery to focus on a screen or book for long, but I actually finished this little gem (Le Collier Rouge, by Jean-Christophe Rufin) the day after the surgery, before the pain settled in and forced me onto heavier drugs! This book was a gift from my dear friends Dominique and Pascale when I left France July 2nd. The red collar is worn by an old dog and carries the medal of the Legion of Honneur, and learning how he wears such a thing gives a certain structure to this unusual tale of a young rural man in France decorated as a war hero for actions on the Eastern front of WWI who is, at the beginning of the tale, emprisoned for a serious crime which the reader only discovers well into the book, slowly and through the eyes of the military judge sent to explore his case. It is a multi-layered tale, of shifting understanding of war from different perspectives, often due to knowledge discovered, of animals and humans, or loyalty and misguided principles, of a certain stuborness which makes humans follow the wrong path to their instincts. Enough intertwining mysteries and unanswered questions to keep you going: what was the crime? what led to it? who is the young woman clearly not of country origin settled into all these lives? How will the judgment turn out? For my fellow francophiles, here is a nice quote that explains nicely the dilemma our judge finds himself in and the realization that he can and will be malleable in his thinking; he has taken a walk in the woods: (sorry I can't do accents on this computer) "A mesure qu'on avance dans les allees forestieres, on decouvre des alignments inattendus. Le desordre des troncs fait alors place, pour un instant, a une trouee rectiligne qui semble conduire jusqu'a l'horizon. Cette irruption de la volonte humaine dans le chaos de la nature ressemble assez a la naissance de l'idee dans la magma des pensees confuses. Tout d'un coup, dans les deux cas, nait une perspective, un couloir de lumiere qui met de l'ordre dans les choses comme dans les idees et permet de voir loin." It really make me feel warm and fuzzy even as it was so serious in intent!
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  • Nan Williams
    January 1, 1970
    To me the book was not so much about loyalty but rather about misunderstanding and a failure to consider the catastrophes which can ensue from the consequences of ignorance. This book is a clear application of Pope’s famous couplet, “A little learning is a dangerous thing, Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”The story centers on Morlac, a simple French farmer who was conscripted (right out of the field at harvest time) for service in WWI. He was sent to join the Oriental Expeditionary F To me the book was not so much about loyalty but rather about misunderstanding and a failure to consider the catastrophes which can ensue from the consequences of ignorance. This book is a clear application of Pope’s famous couplet, “A little learning is a dangerous thing, Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”The story centers on Morlac, a simple French farmer who was conscripted (right out of the field at harvest time) for service in WWI. He was sent to join the Oriental Expeditionary Force in the Balkans and received the Legion d’honneur for his bravery under fire there. In the setting of our novel, he was incarcerated following the treaty with a possible sentence of death for some sort of traitorous action. Prior to being swept off to war, he had befriended a woman who was the daughter and niece of radicals. She, Valentine, is a very intelligent and well read woman who introduces him to ideas of Marxism and Communism. Even though Morlac has had practically no education, he excels in reading under her tutelage and rapidly and rabidly embraces her ideas without having any basis by which to understand the consequences and/or collateral damage of the notion of a “worker’s paradise.”The characters were well drawn and quite sympathetic – especially the military judge, Lantier, who was trying desperately to understand why a decorated hero would have besmirched the army he served. If any person in this novella was “loyal” it was Lantier who was loyal to the truth and to justice … and kindness.I didn’t really understand the contrast between the dog’s unquestioning loyalty and devotion to Morlac and Morlac’s total lack of concern and appreciation for the dog. That was probably the crux of the story or at least symbolic, but I missed it.
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  • Stephen Durrant
    January 1, 1970
    This small French novel from former Goncourt Prize winner Jean-Christophe Rufin is constructed like a “whodunit,” but the reader is not pushed forward by the “who,” since we know from the beginning the “who” is a former peasant and World War I soldier Jacques Morlac, but by the “dun.” Precisely what Morlac did is only revealed on the last pages. Our perspective throughout is that of the investigating judge Lantier, who is working his way through the case, interrogating Morlac among others, towar This small French novel from former Goncourt Prize winner Jean-Christophe Rufin is constructed like a “whodunit,” but the reader is not pushed forward by the “who,” since we know from the beginning the “who” is a former peasant and World War I soldier Jacques Morlac, but by the “dun.” Precisely what Morlac did is only revealed on the last pages. Our perspective throughout is that of the investigating judge Lantier, who is working his way through the case, interrogating Morlac among others, toward a verdict and punishment. In the background of all of this is an absurdly loyal dog, but to say more about that would require a spoiler alert. Rufin’s novel is a compelling addition to those 2014 novels marking the hundredth anniversary of an especially stupid, murderous war. It carries, I think, two messages that can at times tear in opposite directions: first, the military emphasis upon loyalty as the chief virtue is completely anti-humanistic, reducing people to the level of instinctive animals; and second, often our own actions, justified to ourselves in the most high-minded and idealistic of fashions, are really motivated by entirely personal and sometimes totally unrelated circumstances.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    EN DEUX MOTS :Un court roman historique qui vous tient en haleine tout en dévoilant, par-delà la barbarie de la guerre, la richesse cachée des hommes et des bêtes. Une bonne introduction à cet auteur.IN OTHER WORDS:A nice historical novel based on a true story about World War I and its aftermath in society and politics, especially among the anti-militarist movements.I enjoyed how the author conveyed the atmosphere of a small town, with a sense of palpable oppression.The end is perhaps a little s EN DEUX MOTS :Un court roman historique qui vous tient en haleine tout en dévoilant, par-delà la barbarie de la guerre, la richesse cachée des hommes et des bêtes. Une bonne introduction à cet auteur.IN OTHER WORDS:A nice historical novel based on a true story about World War I and its aftermath in society and politics, especially among the anti-militarist movements.I enjoyed how the author conveyed the atmosphere of a small town, with a sense of palpable oppression.The end is perhaps a little surprising, but it is also for Rufin a way of emphasizing a source of optimism, of hope, as a renewal or a new start. History is not a confinement. The prison from the first pages finally opens in some way, providing the opportunity for new horizons.my full review:https://wordsandpeace.com/2016/05/27/...
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  • Allison Malter
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not sure why I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped. Perhaps it was because it is translated from the French or because one of the main characters is not very sympathetic. Supposedly this book is about what it means to be loyal and faithful. All of the characters share the inhuman experience of World War I. A decorated soldier is imprisoned at the end of the war because of some act that he has committed but the crime itself is not revealed until the end of the book. This crime could I’m not sure why I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped. Perhaps it was because it is translated from the French or because one of the main characters is not very sympathetic. Supposedly this book is about what it means to be loyal and faithful. All of the characters share the inhuman experience of World War I. A decorated soldier is imprisoned at the end of the war because of some act that he has committed but the crime itself is not revealed until the end of the book. This crime could be punishable by death if there are no mitigating circumstances. His dog has stayed with him throughout the war and while he is in prison, but the man is certainly not as devoted to the dog as the dog is to him. The major who must judge the prisoner is trying to determine the motivation and history of the crime. Although the book is quite short it seems to plod along to the denouement.
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  • Mindy
    January 1, 1970
    I got this book because it's a French novella, and I love French literature. I also got it because there's a dog in it, and I love dogs. The story takes place right after WWI. A man has been accused of something (but you don't find out what exactly until the end), and he is being interviewed by an officer who is in charge of determining his fate. The book is really a philosophy on humanity. The main character (the officer) is faced with determining whether the accused man's idea of humanity mean I got this book because it's a French novella, and I love French literature. I also got it because there's a dog in it, and I love dogs. The story takes place right after WWI. A man has been accused of something (but you don't find out what exactly until the end), and he is being interviewed by an officer who is in charge of determining his fate. The book is really a philosophy on humanity. The main character (the officer) is faced with determining whether the accused man's idea of humanity means he is innocent or guilty of the charges. It's a good thinking book, but it's not heavy reading at all. You could read it in a couple of hours if you have the time. This would be a cool book to read and discuss in an intro to philosophy class.
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  • Philip Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderfully written little masterpiece. The economy and efficiency of writing, the insight into the human condition and the neatly introduced political themes put me in mind of Hemingway. I am a fan of Greene, Orwell and Maugham and for some months now have been reading more modern writers in a bid to identify a contemporary author of similar standing. I've found him at last! I love his straightforward style - a single narrative, no trendy messing with the timeline and even chapters with class A wonderfully written little masterpiece. The economy and efficiency of writing, the insight into the human condition and the neatly introduced political themes put me in mind of Hemingway. I am a fan of Greene, Orwell and Maugham and for some months now have been reading more modern writers in a bid to identify a contemporary author of similar standing. I've found him at last! I love his straightforward style - a single narrative, no trendy messing with the timeline and even chapters with classic numbering! To top it all, it's a great story. I will definitely be reading more of Rufin and recommend this novella to anyone who appreciates beautiful writing.
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