Roberta Writes – Literary quotes quiz: War novels @remembranceday2022 @literaryquotes

Friday is Remembrance Day 2022. In anticipation, I thought I would share quotes from four famous war novels for this week’s literary quiz.

Do you know the author or the title of these four novels, or both? I’ve given a few clues this week.

Book 1 – American author – American civil war

“It was not well to drive men into final corners; at those moments they could all develop teeth and claws.”

“Since he had turned his back upon the fight his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about to smite him between the eyes. When he thought of it later, he conceived the impression that it is better to view the appalling than to be merely within hearing.”

“Thoughts of his comrades came to him. The brittle blue line had withstood the blows and won. He grew bitter over it. It seemed that the blind ignorance and stupidity of those little pieces had betrayed him. He had been overturned and crushed by their lack of sense in holding the position, when intelligent deliberation would have convinced them that it was impossible. He, the enlightened man who looks afar in the dark, had fled because of his superior perceptions and knowledge. He felt a great anger against his comrades. He knew it could be proved that they had been fools.”

“The slaves toiling in the temple of this god began to feel rebellion at his harsh tasks.”

Book 2 – German author – WW1

“He lies there for a while without a word. Then he says, ‘You can take my flying boots for Müller.’ I nod and try to think of something to say that will cheer him up. His lips are pallid, his mouth has got bigger and his teeth look very prominent, as if they were made of chalk. His flesh is melting away, his forehead is higher, his cheekbones more pronounced. The skeleton is working its way to the surface. His eyes are sinking already. In a few hours it will all be over.”

“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

“We came to realise – first with astonishment, then bitterness, and finally with indifference – that intellect apparently wasn’t the most important thing…not ideas, but the system; not freedom, but drill. We had joined up with enthusiasm and with good will; but they did everything to knock that out of us.”

“We’re no longer young men. We’ve lost any desire to conquer the world. We are refugees. We are fleeing from ourselves. From our lives. We were eighteen years old, and we had just begun to love the world and to love being in it; but we had to shoot at it. The first shell to land went straight for our hearts. We’ve been cut off from real action, from getting on, from progress. We don’t believe in those things any more; we believe in the war.”

Book 3 – American author – WW1

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

“God knows I had not wanted to fall in love with her. I had not wanted to fall in love with any one. But God knows I had and I lay on the bed in the room of the hospital in Milan and all sorts of things went through my head but I felt wonderful…”

“It could be worse,’ Passini said respectfully. “There is nothing worse than war.”
Defeat is worse.”
I do not believe it,” Passini said still respectfully. “What is defeat? You go home.”

“Cowards die a thousand deaths, but the brave only die once.”

Book 4 – British author – WW1 poetry

“Dark clouds are smouldering into red

While down the craters morning burns.

The dying soldier shifts his head

To watch the glory that returns:

He lifts his fingers toward the skies

Where holy brightness breaks in flame;

Radiance reflected in his eyes,

And on his lips a whispered name.”


“Raved at the bleeding war, his rampant grief

Moaned, shouted, sobbed, and choked, while he was kneeling

Half-naked on the floor. In my belief

Such men have lost all patriotic feeling.”


“Three hours ago he blundered up the trench,

Sliding and poising, groping with his boots;

Sometimes he tripped and lurched against the walls

With hands that pawed the sodden bags of chalk.”

Last but not least – Quotes from a war book about the Anglo Boer War by a South African author [big wink]

“Moving backwards, lugging the heavy body, was immeasurably hard. My overtaxed leg and back muscles trembled, and my sweat slicked hands slipped and slid under the captain’s arms. I expelled a huge sigh of relief when William and I were finally able to lay our burden down at a designated spot near to the stranded armoured train. My legs refused to hold me up any longer and I sank to my knees.”

“The trucks exploded with a tremendous whirr-rump sound. The enormous noise rolled across the barren countryside like thunder. The two balls of flame that had been the trucks, burned with a brightness that Robert couldn’t look at. Dark, oily fumes rose in the air, fanning out into a huge mushroom cloud that hovered above the veld like a malevolent genie in a children’s storybook.”

“Leaping to his feet, Pieter moved in the direction of the noise. There was a bright moon, but also some thick dark clouds which drifted across its face. For a minute, Pieter’s world was completely black and then the cloud passed, and he could see the armoured train, its engine leaning drunkenly to one side where it had left the tracks.”

“Over the past months, fear has eaten into his mind’s core like a malevolent caterpillar. Fear of the future. Fear of the soldiers. Fear of losing his farm. It’s been there, rotting his brain matter, ever since the declaration of war in October the previous year.”

Happy Tuesday!

72 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Literary quotes quiz: War novels @remembranceday2022 @literaryquotes

  1. A Ghost and His Gold is a truly fascinating book, Robbie. I’m glad you included it here.
    Wishing you blessings on your Remembrance Day. Even though we don’t have a holiday here this week, your post is very timely — with war and threats of even worse around the globe, and those in the USA who would manipulate us into a civil war. People never learn.
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Tuesday Robbie, lovely post. You selected very powerful extracts, it is so hard to image war and the emotions, the decision. The paragraphs/quotes selected really make an impression on the heart.

    And of course lovely to read bits from your book and learn from your writing style.

    Lovely blog post as always

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, R0bbie! Guessing on the first one — “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane? Second one definitely “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque, who I of course just wrote about in my blog. 🙂 Third one sounds Hemingway-esque, but not one of the novels of his I’ve read. Fourth — no clue. Very intense, poignant, powerful quotes — including the terrific one written by you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Dave, well done on the first two. The third is Hemmingway and is from my joint favourite book, A Farewell to Arms. I much preferred this book to For Whom the Bell Tolls and that’s why I picked it. The last extracts are poems by Siegfried Sassoon, a great favourite of mine. He features in Pat Barker’s Regeneration. I’m not sure if you’ve read that series?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Robbie! I did read the excellent first “Regeneration” book a few months ago; I should have remembered Siegfried Sassoon! And I guess I should read “A Farewell to Arms.” Though I’m not a huge Hemingway fan, I did like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” a lot. So if “A Farewell to Arms” might be better — wow!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree Dave! Robbie has the most interesting posts. # 1 is from The Red Badge of Courage.” I remember reading “The Red Badge of Courage” many years ago – it was required reading. # 2 Is definitely “All Quiet on the Western Front – that quote is fresh in my mind. The third quote is from Hemingway’s Farewell to arms. I think (not quite certain on this) that Hemingway gives a nod to William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar) when he writes: ‘Cowards die a thousand deaths, but the brave only die once.” The fourth is a quote from a poem by Siegfried Sassoon. I just was looking through a book/collection of WWI poems given to me by father. I take it out every November to prepare for Remembrance Day on the 11th. The Ghost and His Gold is a brilliant read. Many thanks Robbie!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Rebecca, you are very well versed on war books and poetry. I do believe you and I have discussed Siegfried Sassoon’s poetry before so I thought you would recognise these extracts. I have done a recording of my short story, The Warning. It is the one about the eruption of Mount Tarawera and the destruction of the pink & white terraces in New Zealand which you had expressed an interest in. I added some of my photographs and some paintings by Charles Blomfield.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I received a YouTube notification on “The Warning” and am listening to your recording today. Is this short story part of a collection? I have been trying to find the book to read along with you audio – your audio is exceptional. It is not easy to create audio readings of books. You do it beautifully.

          Siegfried Sassoon is a brilliant poet. I admire his courage for becoming a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war. I can only imagine the backlash he must have experienced. I found a huge collection of his poetry on Gutenberg Press.

          This is the beginning of his poem: The Hero

          “Jack fell as he’d have wished,” the Mother said,
          And folded up the letter that she’d read.
          “The Colonel writes so nicely.” Something broke
          In the tired voice that quavered to a choke.
          She half looked up. “We mothers are so proud
          Of our dead soldiers.” Then her face was bowed.”

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi Rebecca, I know the poem you quoted. So very, very tragic. The Warning is part of a collection called Wings & Fire which is on Amazon. I can send you the PDF via email as the rest of the stories are more horror which may not be to your taste. Let me know. I am considering putting all my short stories in various anthologies into one collection of my own.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. What a wonderful idea to put all your stories in an anthology. I will be the first one in line to read it. Could you give me more info on the Wings & Fire anthology. I am going to explore horror and gothic in 2023.

            Liked by 1 person

          1. I understand. When I was at school I had to learn The Oxford Voice by DH Lawrence off by heart and I’ve never forgotten it.
            “When you hear it languishing

            and hooing and cooing, and sidling through the front teeth,

            the Oxford voice

            or worse still

            the would-be Oxford voice

            you don’t even laugh any more, you can’t.”
            I’ve never understood why this was considered important to teach to South African school children but I really loved it.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not sure but the first one could be The Red Badge of Courage and the second one is All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. The Third one is Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. I don’t know the poem/poet.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m guessing The Red Badge of Courage for the first one, All Quiet on the Western Front for the second one, a Farewell to Arms for the fourth one, and A Ghost and His Gold for the last one. The third one is one of the WWI poets, but I don’t know which one. I don’t think it’s Wilfred Owen, as I don’t recall his using rhyme

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Instead of guessing at the authors, I want to say that I disagree with Steinbeck. I find his quotation shallow and close-minded. Steinbeck is better than that. Apologies if my comment is inappropriate, Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jennie, thanks for your comment. I suppose it depends on how you think about the quote. In some instances, war is unavoidable, for example, when Wilson entered WW1 to defend democrasy. What would have happened if he didn’t? I suppose the failure of thinking was on the side of the war mongers rather than those who are left to react to the circumstances. The psychology of war is very complex and I certainly don’t profess to have any answers.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I guessed the first two correctly, it seems, but missed Hemingway altogether. Didn’t know the poem but wondered if it was Rupert Brooke or Wilfred Owen. Didn’t think of Sassoon. I did recognize your book, Robbie. An impactful scene!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I got All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms and guessed the first might be the Red Badge of Courage, although I’ve never read it. I’ve read Sassoon but didn’t recognise the verses. Good choices, Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. How is your son, Robbie? I told someone I know about him and she put his name in the prayer book of her church where they meet on a Saturday. That must have been two or more weeks ago, but I forgot to tell you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. HI Danny, that is very kind of you. Thank you. He is still ill and suffering headaches and pressure. The operation failed on the right hand side as the scar tissue closed the sinus drainage. The doctor doesn’t know why this has happened again as all the tests for autoimmune diseases have come back negative. He is having repeat surgery on the RH side next Tuesday and he is going to insert to plastic sheets and stitch them in to held the sinus drainage open. He will drain out all the infected stuff behind the blockage and remove the scar tissue. He can’t reach it now because it’s behind the barrier. Michael is quite traumatised and anxious, but we will get there in the end. Thanks for asking, I appreciate it. I haven’t forgotten about the review for your book. It’s just been mad with caring for Michael and work. I’m going to get it written this weekend and will post it next week. My mom is zipping through your books.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I know none!
    Still a wonderful post for remembering.
    We had a wonderful Canadian soldier/poet in WWI.
    He wrote:

    In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Dave Astor was recently discussing the author of “All Quiet on the Western Front” (whose name I’ve already forgotten). I read that book forever ago, as an assignment. It was during the time of our war in Vietnam and the prospect of felling that “We’re no longer young men.” was scary. I also recognize the last entry 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Dan, yes, it was Dave who gave me the idea for this post. In fact, he inspired the whole series. I was deeply moved by All Quiet on the Western Front which is so vivid and terrifying. The Red Badge of Courage (book 1) is a brilliant story about the American War of Independence. Book 3 is A Farewell to Arms, my favourite Hemmingway or maybe a tie with The Old Man and the Sea. Lastly, the poet is Siegfried Sassoon one of the WW1 War Poets.

      Liked by 2 people

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