"The earth on which he walked, the black earth, leaving phosphoric footmarks behind him, was composed of the mouldered bodies of millions of men who had passed away"

This nightmarish revelation, and the vision of an utterly decimated city and civilisation, seems to foreshadow the horrors of the Twentieth Century: the massacre of the Somme, the killing fields of Cambodia and the use of atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After this last, Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb, reflected on his role:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.