667 Im Westen nichts Neues A l ouest rien de novreau All Quiet on The Western Front In the West Nothing New, Erich Maria Remarque 1898 1970 All Quiet on the Western Front German Im Westen nichts Neues, lit In the West Nothing New is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I The book describes the German soldiers extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front 1972 1309 220 1346 324 20 1392 1385 254 1929 It s unendurable It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning This slim novel about the horror of the World War I trenches and the senselessness of war was published in 1929 If you open this book up today, it is absolutely just as relevant now as it was decades ago It is powerful and breathtaking I finished my second reading of this last month and barely a day goes by without me thinking about it I had read All Quiet for the first time ages ago and the haunting feeling I had then has stayed with me all these years If you have not ever read this book, you must do so It is that meaningfulShells, gas clouds, and flotillas of tanks shattering, corroding, death Dysentery, influenza, typhus scalding, choking, death Trenches, hospitals, the common grave there are no other possibilities This is a story of a German soldier, Paul B umer, and his comrades Since the book is so widely known and reviewed here on Goodreads, I won t go into plot details But I want to make note of some portions that affected me quite deeply For instance, Remarque so clearly reflects the feeling of camaraderie that these men, most of them not even twenty years old, experienced in the field and on the front These were some of the most moving passages of the novelThese voices, these quiet words, these footsteps in the trench behind me recall me at a bound from the terrible loneliness and fear of death by which I had been almost destroyed They are to me than life, these voices, they are than motherliness and than fear they are the strongest, most comforting thing there is anywhere they are the voices of my comrades I ve never read such stirring words about the soldier s intimacy with not a woman, but rather with the very earth itself The writing is truly remarkableTo no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and her security she shelters him and releases him for ten seconds to live, to run, ten seconds of life receives him again and often forever When Paul goes home on leave, he finds that the life he once knew and loved no longer has the same meaning His books, his case of butterflies and his piano no longer bring him the joy they once had He cannot speak of what he has seen he feels that those that have not been on the front and mired in the trenches can truly understand him He feels alone I was heartbroken when he cried out for his lost childhoodAh Mother, Mother You still think I am a child why can I not put my head in your lap and weep Why have I always to be strong and self controlled I would like to weep and be comforted too, indeed I am little than a child in the wardrobe still hang short, boy s trousers it is such a little time ago, why is it over I don t know if a book exists that so effectively conveys the meaninglessness of war If there is another, I have yet to read it I suspect that Remarque had a marked influence on many authors writing about the topic since, but I don t think this one can be beat in its simple yet passionate and well expressed message There were moments of fleeting pleasures and true companionship that allowed me to intermittently rejoice along with Paul and dream of a future when the war would be ended But I also keenly felt his moments of hopelessness and despair I nodded my head when he recognized in the enemy a man much like himself His sense of humanity truly shined at these times Something as basic as the sharing of cigarettes with the Russian prisoners was very tellingI take out my cigarettes, break each one in half and give them to the Russians They bow to me and then light the cigarettes Now red points glow in every face They comfort me it looks as though there were little windows in dark village cottages saying that behind them are rooms full of peace Ah, if only this book could be read everywhere by everyone Perhaps then we could all see the reflection of ourselves, our mothers, our fathers, our brothers and sisters, and our lovers in the face of another human being Could we then avoid the devastation of war This book deserves a place on your bookshelf Grab a copy if you haven t already Mine is sitting on my all time favorites shelfI think it is of a kind of fever No one in particular wants it, and then all at once there it is We didn t want the war, the others say the same thing and yet half the world is in it all the same This Is The Testament Of Paul B Umer, Who Enlists With His Classmates In The German Army Of World War I These Young Men Become Enthusiastic Soldiers, But Their World Of Duty, Culture, And Progress Breaks Into Pieces Under The First Bombardment In The Trenches Through Years Of Vivid Horror, Paul Holds Fast To A Single Vow To Fight Against The Hatred That Meaninglessly Pits Young Men Of The Same Generation But Different Uniforms Against One Another If Only He Can Come Out Of The War Alive The greatest war novel Maybe.This was one of the first books that made me think that even though I wanted to be a writer someday, maybe I did not have what it takes This was a sharp, swift kick in the gut a none too subtle reminder that there are somber, very real and poignant moments captured in literature that escape petty categorization and cynicism, there are real moments that cannot be trivialized and placed on a genre specific bookshelf Powerful 2018 This book, as a war novel, is cautionary No doubt there are those novels that glorify and even romanticize battles, and there are others whose goal it is to revel in the martial experience Remarque, though, has crafted a simple story that focuses instead on the individual and how this ugly time affects his life In doing so Remarque declares the value of that individual life, in all life, and shines a discerning, damning light on war. I was finishing a phase of reading and teaching facets of the First World War, and it would not be complete without this fictitious, but realistic portrait of a soldier s life in the trenches on the Western frontI was reading excerpts from All Quiet On The Western Front in class, with students staring at me, some of them understanding for the first time what it really meant to be a soldier in the trenches, sent out to die under the banner of nationalism which was an entirely positive word back then They had read the facts in their textbooks, and also checked additional sources, such as small parts of Churchill s brilliant The World Crisis, 1911 1918 or the highly informative The First World War A Very Short Introduction They had even familiarised themselves with quite graphic photographs and documentaries But nothing prepared them for the voice of the young soldier in the novel that took them directly into the situation, and made the numbers from the history books become real people with feelings and worries All of a sudden, the information that 20,000 English soldiers died on the first day of a specific attack was no longer just statistical data to be memorised It meant 20,000 letters sent home to parents, siblings, wives and girlfriends, all with the same sad news Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori , that old lie, which made soldiers die by the millions, or suffer life altering mutilations, forever remembered through The Poems Of Wilfred Owen, is put into brutal contrast with the reality of a soldier on the German side The soldier could just as well have been English or French, as the experience was the same on both sides of No Man s Land, with the exception that German soldiers recognised they were lucky to conduct the war outside their home country, seeing the destruction of the whole countryside around them The feeling of nationalism that the ordinary soldier has are expressed in the fact that he is out here But it doesn t go any further all his other judgements are practical ones and made from his point of view The sense of idiocy, conspiracy, or irrationality behind the suffering is omnipresent Soldiers discuss how they ended up in a situation that presumably nobody wanted but that everyone is now involved in They read the papers, see the propaganda machines, know the lies They are young, were recruited from school, and trained quickly to lose all previous ideals, to be prematurely old in their minds We had joined up with enthusiasm and with good will but they did everything to knock that out of us After three weeks, it no longer struck us as odd that an ex postman with a couple of stripes should have power over us than our parents ever had, or our teachers, or the whole course of civilization, from Plato to Goethe With our young, wide open eyes we saw that the classical notion of patriotism we had heard from our teachers meant, in practical terms at that moment, surrendering our individual personalities completely than we would ever have believed possible even in the most obsequious errand boy Saluting, eyes front, marching, presenting arms, right and left about, snapping to attention, insults and a thousand varieties of bloody mindedness we had imagined that our task would be rather different from all this, but we discovered that we were being trained to be heroes the way they train circus horses, and we quickly got used to it The bitterness of the situation is expected by any reader familiar with the First World War The hard conditions, the dying, mutilation and boredom are not new What got under my skin rereading this novel for probably the fourth time now, were the details showing what was left of those individual characteristics the young men were asked to surrender to the cause The compassion and understanding they are able to feel for Russian prisoners The joy they experience on an adventure involving girls The passionate happiness when they receive the slightest comfort, or the unspeakable sadness when they visit their families and realise they have lost touch with them and can t share their knowledge The complete loneliness when a mother asks how it really is, and the teenage son has to protect her from a truth that she won t be able to digest There is my mother, there is my sister, there is the glass case with my butterflies, there is the mahogany piano but I am not quite there myself yet There is a veil The protagonist fell in October 1918, just before the armistice, during the very last weeks of the war, just like Wilfred Owen in real life He fell on a day that was so unspectacular that the newspaper reported all was quiet, nothing new on the western front That is the most heartbreaking part of the novel, that this individual, intelligent young man, forced out to die for an ideal he did not believe in, was not even considered noteworthy in the news Heroism of the quiet death, which is neither sweet nor appropriate.Reading a novel like this puts the big drama of the facts into perspective, turning the attention to the human beings and their lives again, away from the leadership on both sides fighting for causes the soldiers did not understand or benefit from in the least All Quiet On The Western Front is as important now as it was when it was written it yells out in capital letters that we are playing with humans, not resources It yells out a warning against blind patriotism, nationalism and weak, egocentric leadership It yells out against carelessness and pride, and the lopsidedness of the suffering.My students read poetry along with the excerpt from this novel, and at one point the question came up how many of the decision makers were blinded, mutilated, amputated How many of them died in the trenches None was the answer Then how dare they force those young men out there yelled my students And I was quiet.In the hope that the hubris of power will never again rise to those monstrous proportions, I keep teaching, adding Remarque, B ll, Owen and others to Plato and Goethe and the rest of the course of civilisation. It has to be the defining novel of World War I, told from the point of view of a German soldier fighting in the trenches of France This is not a novel of romance, intrigue, and adventure it is a stark and frightingly realistic description of what it must have been like trying to survive from one day to the next, and almost always failing Difficult and disturbing to read, it nevertheless is a narrative of how war is horrible, and hopefully why the telling of it may help deter future wars. Five heartbreaking stars for this classic novel about World War I I first read All Quiet on the Western Front my freshman year of college, thanks to Dr K s humanities course During this re read, I paused not only in appreciation of what soldiers and their families suffer during war, but also for all the great teachers who spend their days trying to inspire students to have Perspective and Big Ideas and to Think Critically I remember how meaningful it was to read this book when I was 19, and it helped shape how I think about history and conflict and war I was reminded of this quote from Pat Conroy If there is important work than teaching, I hope to learn about it before I die I ve been thinking a lot about my freshman humanities course because All Quiet on the Western Front was recently chosen as a Common Read for the college campus where I work, and I m helping to plan the program that will hopefully inspire hundreds of other students to read this book It s giving me a contented circle of life feeling Back to the novel itself, which follows German soldier Paul B umer and his fellow classmates who enlisted in the war We see their stoicism and also their mental and physical stress We suffer with them when they are hungry, and we rejoice when they are fed We spend an anxious night with Paul when he is stuck in No Man s Land during an attack, and witness his anguish when he kills another man for the first time We follow him as he goes home on leave to visit his sick mother, and we understand why he can t answer his family s questions about the front He lies and says it s fine, the stories are exaggerated, the soldiers are treated well But nothing will ever be fine again, and we all know it.While reading this book, I used countless post its to mark quotes This is a classic that is both easy to read and astonishingly beautiful in its clarity of writing Highly recommended.And finally, three cheers to you, Dr K Thank you for everything you ve done to inspire students.Favorite Quotes The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach and intestines Three quarters of his vocabulary is derived from these regions, and they give an intimate flavor to expressions of his greatest joy as well as of his deepest indignation It is impossible to express oneself in any other way so clearly and pithily Our families and our teachers will be shocked when we go home, but here it is the universal language For a moment we fall silent There is in each of us a feeling of constraint We are all sensible of it it needs no words to communicate it It might easily have happened that we should not be sitting here on our boxes to day it came damn near to that And so everything is new and brave, red poppies and good food, cigarettes and summer breeze While they taught that duty to one s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death throes are stronger We loved our country as much as they we went courageously into every action but also we distinguished the false from the true, we had suddenly learned to see And we saw that there was nothing of their world left We were all at once terribly alone and alone we must see it through The war has ruined us for everything We have become wild beasts We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down Modern trench warfare demands knowledge and experience a man must have a feeling for the countours of the ground, an ear for the sound and character of the shells, must be able to decide beforehand where they will drop, how they will burst, and how to shelter from them Bombardment, barrage, curtain fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine guns, hand grenades words, words, but they hold the horror of the world Thus momentarily we have the two things a soldier needs for contentment good food and rest That s not much when one comes to think of it A few years ago we would have despised ourselves terribly But now we are almost happy It is all a matter of habit even the front line Terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks but it kills, if a man thinks about it But our comrades are dead, we cannot help them, they have their rest and who knows what is waiting for us We will make ourselves comfortable and sleep, and eat as much as we can stuff into our bellies, and drink and smoke so that hours are not wasted Life is short We were never very demonstrative in our family poor folk who toil and are full of cares are not so It is not their way to protest what they already know When my mother says to me dear boy, it means much than when another uses it I am young, I am twenty years old yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another I see that the keenest brains of the world invent weapons and words to make it yet refined and enduring And all men of my age, here and over there, throughout the whole world see these things all my generation is experiencing these things with me And men will not understand us for the generation that grew up before us, though it has passed these years with us already had a home and a calling now it will return to its old occupations, and the war will be forgotten and the generation that has grown up after us will be strange to us and push us aside We will be superfluous even to ourselves, we will grow older, a few will adapt themselves, some others will merely submit, and most will be bewildered the years will pass by and in the end we shall fall into ruin. From its opening in the trenches with the German Army in WWI to an end replete with utter hopelessness, Erich Maria Remarque s All Quiet on the Western Front presents a devastating picture of a soldier at war What s clear is that our protagonist, Paul, could be a soldier of any country his concerns and emotions could be those of a soldier of this century rather than the beginning of the 20th century In fact, despite the images we associate with WWI such as the gas attacks and brutal conditions in the trenches , there is something very modern about All Quiet on the Western Front It may well have to do with Remarque s attitude toward war From the outset, we are warned that this is not an adventure even those who manage to escape the war unscathed are damaged In effect, a generation is destroyed by the war.In trying to make sense of the war, Remarque explores the powerlessness of soldiers on the front lines From a belief in their government s rationale in going to war, soldiers increasingly focus on their own deliverance The end is utterly bleak All the promise of youth is destroyed by disease, starvation and ultimately death Those who come back from this war are still damaged there is no way they can go through the horrors of war without the scars. I don t know why it took me so long to get to All Quiet on the Western Front, but I m glad I finally read it and am grateful to my friend Rose for recommending it The book, first published in the late 1920s, is an absolutely heartbreaking, wonderfully written novel about the permanent damage done to those who fight in wars Few anti war novels written since have matched Erich Maria Remarque s unsettling book, and I doubt any have surpassed it.Given how famous All Quiet is, there s little need for me to say much about it here Plus, it s so much easier to write negative reviews than positive ones, and I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book There are several heart rending passages that I expect will stick with me for a long time, though, and that I feel the need to mention Paul B umer s leave, during which he finds it nearly impossible to relate normally to his family after his experiences on the front Paul s time in a shell hole with French soldier G rard Duval the brief interlude Paul and his comrades spend with a group of French girls, and how the gal with whom he d been paired treats him in the end and, of course, the scene near the book s end involving Stanislaus Katczinsky, easily All Quiet s most interesting character I won t say anything about the scene with Kat so as not to spoil it for those who haven t read the book yet One final thought, which I bring up because of Logan s comment that he didn t like All Quiet, which he last read in high school I ve talked about this before, most recently in my review of The Sea Wolf, and I feel the need to bring it up again Many American readers, it seems, have bad memories of great works of literature they were made to read in school That they were forced to read the books is, of course, part of the problem, but I also think schoolchildren often are assigned books they re not yet ready for I don t mean that they re not smart enough to read and understand the books, but rather that they re not mature enough to have the books resonate properly with them This would definitely be true of All Quiet It would be the most unusual of high school students one in a hundred, perhaps, if that many who could truly appreciate the issues raised in this book.I would encourage anyone who hasn t read All Quiet yet to check it out And for those who read it in school and were left with a bad taste in their mouths, it s probably time to revisit the book That means you, Logan. Man, I need a break I ve been reading about the First World War solidly since December and I ve had enough now 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 Brilliant Now it s just a matter of guessing which horrible death will be assigned to them shrapnel to the stomach, bleeding to death in no man s land, drowning in mud, succumbing to dysentery, shot for deserting, bayonetted at close range, vaporised by a whizz bang, victim of Spanish flu 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 1914 18 throughout 2014 18 , but 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 roasting a stolen goose in the middle of a barrage, for instance, or stabbing a Frenchman to death in a fit of panic while sheltering in the same shell hole The arrangements made to allow a hospital inmate to enjoy a marital visit with his wife, while the rest of the patients in the room concentrate on a noisy game of cards 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 And back in the trenches, an infestation of huge rats, with evil looking, naked faces , is described with than Biblical loathing 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 don t want to lose those thoughts altogether, I ll preserve them, keep them locked away until the war is over Is this the task we must dedicate ourselves to after the war, so that all the years of horror will have been worthwhile 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 1933 just four years after this was published they set about burning the book, which tended to be their first response to any problem While Ernst J nger s vision of a German people purified and hardened by the war was venerated poor guy , Remarque s text was denounced as an insult to the German soldier He took the hint, and sailed to the US in 1939 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 Remarque only spent a month on the front lines whereas J nger, who apparently had the time of his life, was there for years.This 1994 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 is helpfully placed as an Afterword so as not to spoil the novel itself All in all a very powerful and moving piece of writing if I had to recommend just one contemporary novel from the First World War, so far this is probably it.
- Mass Market Paperback
- 296 pages
- Im Westen nichts Neues
- Erich Maria Remarque
- 16 April 2019 Erich Maria Remarque