Henry de Montherlant: Le Songe (The Dream)
Montherlant’s first novel – which he had difficulty getting published – takes as its premise that guys together in war is better than men and women together outside war. The sub-plot is the basis of Montherlant’s work, namely le culte du moi, translated as worship of self or solipsism. The story is simple. Alban de Bricoule is bored, despite his love affair with Dominique Soubrier. The First World War comes along. He joins up as an ambulance man and has lots of exciting/dangerous adventures with his buddy, Prinet, who is later killed. Though Dominique works as a nurse – briefly – it is as Alban’s lover (to whom she virtually sacrifices herself) that she plays her role. Despite the fact that they do get back together, the old male bonding and memories of Prinet is still what counts. Quite simple really though Montherlant does tell a nice story.
First published in French 1922 by Grasset
First English translation 1962 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson