“this pig snout which represented the war’s true face.”

Surrounded by masked men during a phosgene attack at Verdun, Pierre de Mazenod was reminded of a ‘carnival of death.’ For many, gas took the war into the realm of the unreal, the make-believe. When men donned their masks they lost all sign of humanity, and with their long snouts, large glass eyes, and slow movements, they became figures of fantasy, closer in their angular features to the creations of Picasso and Braque than to soldiers of tradition. [Roland] Dorgelès called the gas mask ‘this pig snout which represented the war’s true face.’

»Modris Eksteins. Rites of Spring : The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

 

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