Saturday, November 29, 2014

All Quiet On The Western Front

This is a classic in literature that I had never read. It was now time. Remarque served in World War I. His novel is a graphic recounting of the damage of war, first approached by young men who believe (at that time) in their mission. Friendships develop, and life seems good. Battles are described in precise detail, and gradually the horror is overwhelming. First published in Germany in 1928, certain passages show that Remarque foresees World War II.

I'm not going to say any more other than to recommend this first-person narration to anyone who is looking for a true-to-life recounting of war. But I will include a lengthy quote of this gifted author that captures the essence of this tale.

"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 more 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. What would our fathers do if we suddenly stood up and came before them and proffered our account? What do they expect of us if a time ever comes when the war is over? Through the years our business has been killing; - it was our first calling in life. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come out of us?" pages 263-264 of this edition.