Mark Helprin, Refiner’s Fire and Memoir from Antproof Case.
Andre Malraux, L’Espoir and La Condition Humaine
Armed Liberal at Winds of Change supplies a quote from Memoir from Antproof Case to support his nomination:
By the time I reached altitude, I could hardly see the Messeschmitts. They were nothing more than specks that appeared and disappeared. Had they gone back to their field, I would have missed them, but they continued their patrol, turning west. That would give me a broadside, out of the sun.
I took it. I hit one so hard he broke up in the air, and the other simply fled. At this point I was very low on fuel and ammunition and I back-rolled for home hoping that the remining Schmitt would not come back. He didn’t.
Just enough fuel was left to skim the beach before landing. We were not supposed to do that, but it was often too enticing not to. It was like shouting out that you were still alive, and your voice was not your voice but the voice of your swift and powerful plane, with an engine that shook the ground, with six cannons, and light wings that rocketed through the clouds. The planes returned as if from nowhere, propellers churning in golden light, avenging angels descending from unimaginable wars in the ether. After my first kill I understood that we were singing a terribly sad song. But I’m not ashamed of having sung that song, for, no matter what you may suspect, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.
Hmmmm….let’s see: Since 1700? Check. Pro-war? No question. High literary quality? I don’t think there’s any question about it.
In some ways, Helprin is a more interesting case than Hemingway or Malraux, because the activity in question is clearly “war” rather than “revolution.”