1. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    French WW1 Vet research: Letters / Diaries / Documentary recs?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Shenanigator, Dec 8, 2018 at 2:45 AM.

    I'm working on the backstory of a character set in the 1920's.

    He's French and fought in World War One, and it affected him greatly.

    Any recommendations for books of letters or diaries of French soldiers (translated to English--my French is limited to culinary French at best)? Suggestions of documentaries are also welcome.

    This is key: I'm looking specifically for personal recollections of French soldiers from the social commentary angle, not military strategies or extensive combat details. I'm just trying to get into the guys's head of why he behaves in certain ways in the "present day"1920's and am looking for details to flesh out his story.

    So, letters home, stories of things that happened in France from the townspeople's point of view...that sort of thing.

    ETA: If anyone's familiar with the book For Love and Courage: the Letters of Lieutenant Colonel E.W. Hermon from the Western Front (which is excellent by the way), I'm looking for something like that, but from a French soldier.

    Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018 at 8:18 AM
  2. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    British rather than French, but there's some fascinating WWI stuff here:

    https://www.iwm.org.uk/
     
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  3. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    English translation or the original French?
     
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  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    English translation, please. :)
     
  5. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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  6. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Since we're talking Hollywood, how about a French pilot?
     
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  7. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

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    Thanks, @Earp ! I found things there that springboard into what I need.

    Thanks @matwoolf ! I found the root of the character's psyche in here.

    That is brilliant! Also, it solves a piece of the character that didn't make sense. Thanks @Stormburn !

    Thanks again, guys. I spent a good portion of the afternoon reading your recommendations and following their side trails. Put together with what I already had, I know who the character is now.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018 at 11:05 PM
  8. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    The name I remembered was Georges Guynemer, but I was thinking about Charles Nungesser.
    220px-Charles_Nungesser_01.jpg
    Frenchman Charles Nungesser was a character straight out of a Hemingway novel. Before the war he was an amateur boxer, race car driver and pilot. During the war he managed to score 45 victories between drinking and banging everything he could get his hands on in Paris. He even found time to regularly nail the legendary spy Mata Hari (well aware of her activities, he cheerfully fed her bullshit stories that she dutifully reported back to her German controllers).
    -http://www.cracked.com/article_18933_6-wwi-fighter-pilots-whose-balls-deserve-their-own-monument.html
    charles-nungesser.jpg

    While history can be plain nuts, fiction has to adhere to some sort of plausibility. So, this guy may be too larger than life.
    I just got off from work, and tonight is Christmas tree night. But, I'll should have some recommendations to you in the next day or two.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    All Quiet on the Western Front is incredible for describing what it was like to fight in the trenches even though the soldiers are German.


    Letters of Jean Hurpin - A French Soldier in the Trenches


    Main page from that same source looks like it's a treasure trove.


     
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  10. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Sadly, a lot of what you are looking for is considered personal and not available online unless in compilation or with owner's permissions (or writers permission). Commong problem when doing research that you eventually get to hate with a passion. The English view it slightly differently and have made a lot of it available online. But for the french, if you have access to it, you to look for it in french - most of it would not be translated.

    here is a few site I have found myself ( in french - but you should be able to use a translator like google translate to get the general concepts/ideas):

    http://www.veterans.gc.ca/fra/remembrance/those-who-served/diaries-letters-stories/first-world-war <<Canadien
    http://lescarnetsdefrederic.over-blog.com/2017/05/journal-du-2-au-19-octobre-1917-lettres.html
    https://francearchives.fr/en/article/88482585 << French Online Archives. You probably wont find anything personal here, but any orders, official letters, etc... will be here.
     
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