Translated from the French by K. Rebillon-Lambley, and the winner of the 1949 Prix Goncourt, this is a spare but deep...

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WEEK-END AT DUNKIRK

Translated from the French by K. Rebillon-Lambley, and the winner of the 1949 Prix Goncourt, this is a spare but deep etching of those in retreat before the Germans in 1940, of the futility and the fear and of a certain spark of hope. Maillat and his fellow soldiers -- Alexandre who mothers them, Pierson the padre with a deep faith, Dhery whose mind is on money and safety, -- wait it out until danger comes too close and Maillat makes an abortive, almost lethal, attempt to be evacuated. There, fleeing from a bombed, burning ship, he witnesses the inertia to escape and, back with his companions, goes through other brushes with death until at last, trying to help a girl he has saved from vandals, he too succumbs to the lassitude and lethargy that invites instead of repelling the end of life. There are vignettes -- of English officers, French burying squads, refugees, medical men -- which have clarity and a pointed sharpness; there are scenes and dialog of outspoken intensity; and there is compassion -- for the victims and the conquered who have not yet met their eventual fate. Among war books, this has a tautness which makes it distinctive.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1951

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1951