Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line
At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions
Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists
‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam
‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6
IN his third novel Major Hamilton Gibbs has continued his struggle to put down on paper his reactions to our late friend,--the War. In "Labels" he has written what must be almost an autobiography, since its pages are too starkly intense to allow of much second-hand material.
The Wickens family furnishes the medium of delivery. There is the Father, Sir Thomas, self-made, a figure in the stock-market, and knighted for his services to the government in backing up the front. Lady Wikens rather flounders through the chapters, endeavoring to find out what it's all about. She does and she doesn't. The three children are Dick, Tom, Madge. Reading from left to right they are a D. S. O., a "conchy,' and a V. A. D., a fairly representative crib of the sort of thing one could or could not do back in 1914.
Tom, the conscientious objector, was the only one to foresee the fruitlessness of the war when it was declared. Dick and Madge both went out, scorning what they then deemed his cowardly behavior. When they come back, like all those who went through it, they realize the utter no tense of medals, knighthoods,--labels, as they put it. Tom returns from the "conchy" camp at Boulogne, half-starved. The Father, entrenching himself behind his knighthood, declares that he will oust the "conchy" from his home. When his two other children, disgusted with their pater's pre-war outlook, declare they will go too if he persists, the absolute breach between the pre-war generation and the post-war becomes only too apparent and it is the significance of this breach that Major Gibbs then drives home. He terms it "the meaning of No Man's Land." "When Jules Verne first wrote about submarines and electric rifles," he says, "and all those things, the people of his day thought he was crazy as they think us now. We've been jerked as far ahead as he was. We've been wasting our energy cursing because people won't wake up and see. Verne didn't. He went on writing--and we used his submarines!.. One of these days everybody will know the meaning of No Man's Land. Its time evolution, the pace of the slowest!"
And elsewhere he continues: "Our job is to change all that. Somehow or other, in the course of centuries we've got to slough off the philosophy which has led us down the wrong trail... War is an inevitable and comparatively insignificant incident resulting from our false hypothesis of conduct:" This is what the "conchy" brother and all the rest of his kind were saying before the fight began, and it is an opinion that the world in general is just beginning to sceptically examine. In a word it is the verdict against nationalism and its attendant evils of patriotism and imperialism that, one may risk saying, may have reached their climax in the late war.
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.