THE E’ER INSCRUTABLE | 1916: Annus Miser and the Horse Without a Rider

1916, one hundred years on, is still considered the fulcrum upon which the fate of the European 20th century hung. As the surface of a pond agitates and ripples outward when a stone is thrown into its depths, so too did the fabric of Europe itself writhe and contort as the twin Furies of war and  revolution waxed, their jaws grinding and their bat-like wings outstretched in horrid pride. Nearly 20,000 young British men died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone; the Battle of Verdun, the centennial of which falls at the end of this month, remains an objective standard of Hell more unearthly than anything Dante or Hieronymus Bosch could ever hope to concoct. The grand chessboard of empires pitting their mettle against one another lost the respectable sheen of Napoleonic line fighting and became thinly veiled wholesale slaughter. I am not, however, concerned with the strictly martial aspect of the year, despite the looming shadow the Great War casts over it.