Even when a character's inner world is revealed, it always seems to be that person's inner life-not the author's.
There's only so many times you can go through the same shit, whether they're English, French, German, Russian — oh look, another group of pals from school, eagerly jogging down to the war office to sign up.
Now it's just a matter of guessing which horrible death will be assigned to them: It's like the most depressing drinking game ever. I wish, after spending many months reading around this subject, that I could pick out some obscure classic to recommend and perhaps I will still find some, because I intend to keep reading about —18 throughout —18but I have to say that this novel, famously one of the greatest war novels, is in fact genuinely excellent and left quite an impression on me, despite my trench fatigue.
Remarque has the same elements as everyone else — because pretty much everyone in this war went through the same godawful mind-numbingly exhausting terror — but he describes it all with such conviction and such clarity that I was sucker-punched by the full horror of it all over again.
The story is studded with remarkable incidents that linger in the mind: I loved the moment where our narrator and his friends swim across a river to have a drink with some local French girls, arriving naked because they couldn't risk getting their uniforms wet.
They seem to be really hungry. They have had a go at practically everybody's bread. Kropp has wrapped his in tarpaulin and put it under his head, but he can't sleep because they run across his face to try and get at it.
Detering tried to outwit them; he fixed a thin wire to the ceiling and hooked the bundle with his bread on to it. During the night he puts on his flashlight and sees the wire swinging backwards and forwards.
Riding on his bread there is a great fat rat. There is also a fair bit of philosophising. While guarding a group of Russian prisoners-of-war, our narrator is overcome by the arbitrariness of the whole situation: An order has turned these silent figures into our enemies; an order could turn them into friends again.
On some table, a document is signed by some people that none of us knows, and for years our main aim in life is the one thing that usually draws the condemnation of the whole world and incurs its severest punishment in law. How can anyone make distinctions like that looking at these silent men, with their faces like children and their beards like apostles?
Any drill-corporal is a worse enemy to the recruits, any schoolmaster a worse enemy to his pupils than they are to us. I found this quote and this resolution very moving, because Germany's post-war history rendered it so utterly futile.
When the Nazis came to power in — just four years after this was published — they set about burning the book, which tended to be their first response to any problem. He took the hint, and sailed to the US in The German state, in what amounted to a fit of pique, cut his sister's head off instead and then billed what was left of his family for wear and tear to the blade.
So — as can't be said enough — fuck them.
The insights that Remarque and Barbusse and Sassoon and Genevoix and Manning found in extremis — of the essential commonality of human beings — are, we like to think, now accepted by society over the alternatives, despite what we sometimes have to infer from the content of our newspapers.
With all of that said, this is a novel. It is not a memoir. This translation from Brian Murdoch is excellent and reads entirely naturally; he also contributes a thoughtful and unassuming essay which — finally, a publisher that gets it! All in all a very powerful and moving piece of writing:Key Facts.
full title · All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen Nichts Neues) author · Erich Maria Remarque type of work · Novel genres · War novel, historical fiction, novel of social protest language · German time and place written · Late s, Berlin date of first publication · Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front presents its reader with the harsh reality of war.
The novel sets out to portray war and the actual experiences, replacing the romantic picture of glory and heroism with a decidedly unromantic vision of terror, vanity, and slaughter.
Jun 24, · On a hot summer’s night in southern Edinburgh (so hot that one member arrived with white wine in a cooler) the proposer introduced “All Quiet On The Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque.
Jul 05, · Erich Maria Remarque wrote “All Quiet on the Western Front” (), a classic that inspired the first mass international peace movement; for . All Quiet on the Western Front, an inspiring novel written by Erich Maria Remarque, has a theme that can relate to many people.
Since the novel mostly has to do with war, the theme is nationalism or showing pride of one owns country. The book All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque tells the story of Paul Baumer, a young German soldier during WWI.
This novel was the first of its kind. Instead of romanticizing war it exposed it for the terrible, bloody and dirty struggle for human survival that it is.