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APOLLINAIRE'S TOMB (working title)

Xavier-Marie Bonnot

  • Publication date: October 2018
  • Publisher: BELFOND
  • Country: FR
  • 397 print pages
  • Drama


  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 20th century, World War I
  • Location setting: France
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Survival, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, War and other conflicts, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Solidarity, Commitment, Friendship, Resilience, Facing failure, Psychological dysfunction, Multiculturalism


While war rages in the trenches, Second Lieutenant William Kostrowitzky writes articles, letters and poems to tell his own story. At the same time, his sergeant Philippe Moreau expresses his anxieties by drawing. The two men, wounded on the same day, are evacuated and lose sight of each other.


Xavier-Marie Bonnot is a French writer and documentary maker. He has already published several awarded novels, including LE PAYS OUBLIÉ (Actes Sud, 2011) and PREMIER HOMME (Actes Sud, 2014), which have been translated into several languages.


‘He was Apollinaire.
I was his sergeant. We were artists during the war and buddies afterwards.’

One of them is a French country lad, Philippe Moreau, who is dispatched to the front in the early days of the Great War. The other is Guillaume de Kostrowitzky, a volunteer of Russian origin who mingles with the artists of Saint-Germain-des-prés in Paris.

In the trenches amid the deafening din and the stench, just yards away from the rotting remains of comrades they have been unable to bury, one deploys his talent to draw the horrors that he cannot express in words, while the other writes because for him war is a tragic muse. His poetry, signed Apollinaire, will pass into posterity. Though from different backgrounds, both are artists united by blood, fear and horror. They are wounded on the same day in the fighting at the Bois-des-Buttes, and though Philippe and Guillaume pull through, they both bear invisible but indelible scars.

Later at the Café de Flore in Paris they are reunited in the company of Picasso, Cocteau and Cendrars. Philippe the rural lad is both terrified and fascinated by the capital and knows that nothing will ever be the same again. The war has torn him from his old world and his family and he can no longer return home, not least because his native region has been razed by the bombs. Through a disconsolate widow seeking company and a kind nurse whose face exudes love, and with the help of his friends, he attempts to rebuild his life.

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