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The Black Obelisk Paperback – May 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Publications (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931541906
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931541909
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,679,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”—The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Certainly worth a read.
"tins"
The book has many characters, and at times I struggled keeping track (especially with the aliases at the asylum thrown in).
Mr. Guy Somebody
It definitely is a slow read, and really this is the only time I've ever thought of a book as one to be savored.
Marina Rozenberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Morris on November 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This novel isn't for everyone but it is my favorite. Remarque does a wondrous job creating vivid characters in a small German city in the early 20s. Hyper-inflation, depression and a nation in despair after the humiliation and torment of the Great War, are well told themes. Ludwig is able to find humor through all this and although there is little plot, there is a great story-line. For me, this novel also explains how the horrible economic conditions could so rile a populace, that the small-minded minority embraces Hitler.
Remarque wrote one of the greatest war novels of all time, told great stories of on the run emigrees, and concentration camp horrors, but this book explains pre-Hitler life and thinking in Germany, and is a must read for any Remarque fan.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marina Rozenberg on November 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It definitely is a slow read, and really this is the only time I've ever thought of a book as one to be savored. Ludwig, the main character, is sensitive, genuine and astute, with an incredible sense of humor that is often surprising. I was really touched by this book. It exposes people for what they are, as it exposes life in those times. Absolutely incredible, but take it slow.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "tins" on July 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Remarque is never boring! If you're that ponderous, contemplative type, you'll appreciate EMR's heroes a lot, including Ludwig Bodmer, the "star" of "The Black Obelisk".
The setting is depressing, as is usual in EMR's novels: the inter-war Germany, fresh out of a lost war and in deep economic trouble, yet failing to acknowledge its mistakes and ready to polish its honour once more. Ludwig sells tombstones, not a terribly exciting occupation in itself, yet even more tolling if you have to do it under conditions of severe inflation. But he and his buddies (most notably, Georg Kroll, the shop owner) manage to have a good time despite everything.
The book is funny in places and philosophical in other. Or the both together. The only parts I found a little tedious were Ludwig's (then a.k.a. Rolf, Rudolph, or Ralph) endless dialogues with Isabelle/Genevieve at the mental asylum. But I can see some people liking those, too.
Certainly worth a read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "mgerald" on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
Inflation and the collapse of civilization growl like unseen monsters on every page of this novel of Germany in the 1920's. They also make up the principal story line of the book, in terms of what they do to individuals and to groups: here Europe is eased into fascism like a terminal patient dozing in narcosis.Remarque fills several hundred pages with the mostly unconnected activities of a large number of residents of a small German city after World War I. But the narrative progression of the novel is to be found not so much in an analysis of what these people do as in how they do it: haphazardly, with the good humor born of shared helplessness and with a mounting sense of alarm that far greater misfortunes are not only thinkable but likely. The reader may often wonder where the author is headed in this book, but Remarque has something very important to say about a world cut loose from its moorings, a ship adrift in an ocean of sinister lunar pulls. There are some unsettling aspects to the author's occasional treatment of people as types and stereotypes: here military men are always narrow minded, the clergy are invariably arrogant, and women burst into tears in 19th century fashion when they can't understand something. Neither does the novel escape the recurrent homophobia to which Remarque's characters are no stranger. But this book holds the attention, until the hidden vocation of the black obelisk itself is revealed: the tale's title was not ill-chosen. While it may not have the rodeo kick of some of Remarque's more plot-oriented novels, its evocation of an age is as clear and unsmudged as a new pane of glass held up to the sunlight for inspection.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
this is my favorite book of all times. with his bitterwseet narrative skills, remarque's masterpiece has captured this reader's heart. the tragic mixture of life, love, homor and melancholy, he has made a book of unbeliveable character and beauty. this is the story of a man who is lost in a desperate world where loneliness and melancholy are the dominant features- the aftermath of world war 1. in this losing battle he finds warmth and tenderness in the least expected places. yet at those times, the more you have, the more you've got to lose. working as a tomb-stone salesman in a small city in Germany, Ludwig fights to break down the barriers that keep him confined, trapped in the man-made hell that is the Germany of after WW1. his friends, his life, his passions- all created by Remarque add up to make a beautiful masterpiece- a novel of love, life and the passions of those who live it. and in the midst of it all, the humor- the laughter and poetic justice only Remarque's skilled hand can bring into this story of life, and the hopes and dreams that are the kindling of its ever-burning fires.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
The economic and political climate in Germany between the world wars and the pathos of an unusual love story make for a great setting. However, often overlooked is the wonderful humor created by the secondary characters in the story. Some of the situations will brings tears to your eyes from laughing. A truly wonderful mix of history, love, and humor,
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