Monday, July 9, 2012

The Great War in Greyscale - The French 'Poilu', 1914


Translated, it literally means 'hairy one'.

'Poilu' is one of those wonderful French words, like jolie-laide ('ugly-beautiful'), that is nuanced, encompassing several meanings, some divergent, but on the whole somehow 'right'. It was a common nickname given to the French infantrymen of the Great War, simultaneously describing a sense of affection, derision and fierce pride for those rustic, bearded, and fatalistically stoic soldiers of France.