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The Black Obelisk Paperback – May 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Publications (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931541906
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931541909
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,292,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By A Customer 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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By A Customer 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front was a brutal depiction of the realities of "modern" warfare, forever shining a bright light on that which has for so long been glorified. His Three Comrades is set in postwar (WWI) Germany, where the devastating effects of war were felt at home, but the young men who came home made the best of it. And this is Remarque's "remarkable" talent--he finds the joy in being human in spite of tough times and revels in it, sweeping the reader up in great stories while re-creating a distant time and place in such convincing detail that you can see and hear the people, hear the music and taste the food.

Black Obelisk continues in the same vein. It deals with the universal theme of a young person working to find his place in the world, even if the world might not be the best at that moment in time--after all, who gets to choose when you are born? With the compelling characters that Remarque creates, you are once again transported to a different place and time and find yourself caring very much what happens as you watch our all too human foibles manifest thru compelling characters during a time and place that was building ultimately to a second World War.

Fun to read, and extremely thought provoking at the same time.
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