All Quiet on the Western Front New Ed Edition
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- Publisher : Vintage; New Ed edition (January 1, 1996)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 216 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0099532816
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099532811
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 0.55 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,898,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In my opinion, the Nazis burned Remarque's books not because he changed his name to a non-German name, but because this book is filled with anti-war sentiment cloaked as it had to be in 1928 when this was first published. To have lived through war in the trenches as Remarque did, qualifies him to speak to the insanity of mass killing that is war.
Let us all read his pages and imbibe the message of the cruelty and senselessness of war. I feel as if I want to go out and obtain a copy of every book Remarque ever published. Let his experience be our teacher; let his message endure. Let every school-kid in the world read and study these pages, so they come to know what war is. Let the decision-makers of the world pore over every passage, and ask themselves whether they will send their children to war. Let Remarque's works guide their decision.
Truly a classic.
Remarque served in the German army during WWI and is able to elicit the type of imagery and feeling only someone as a witness and participant can conjure. The story is narrated by Paul Baumer, an 18 year old German, who enlists along with many of his other school mates. WWI marked a turning point, the advent of modern warfare driven by technological change, couple with armies comprised of general citizens and less of hired or mercenary fighting forces. Paul and his school mates immediately encounter this horror, different from the romanticized battles of yore that they learn about in school. Remarque doesn't choose to place the characters in specific battles, representing the reality of a large portion of the war on the Western Front. These battles were brutality and killing like the world had never seen, the bulk of it trench warfare, with sides progressed marked not by victory or defeat, but yards or feet advanced. Death is everywhere, soldiers fighting in trenches alongside dead bodies of their colleagues and human waste for days, sometimes weeks at a time. All of this is remarkably rendered throughout "AQOTWF" along with Paul's transformation from naive & willing enlistee to disillusioned and devastated participant.
It is not just the physical that Remarque captures so poetically, but the emotional trauma. Some of the most poignant scenes take place off the battlefield. Paul's leave where he returns to his village is my favorite part of the book. We see the demons of a returning soldier, too traumatized to share the reality of the front lines with his family while they realize the different person he's become as a result of war. Essentially, Paul's soul is lost in spite of his physical body being unaffected. They termed it "shellshock" at the time, something we now refer to as PTSD. There are so many gut wrenching scenes of Paul and his friends confronting the reality of war, death and destruction at a point in life when they should be thinking about their future.
If you haven't read "All Quiet on the Western Front", it certainly should merit your attention. Like me, if you've read it as a teen, it is worth revisiting as its impact with greater context and a life lived will make you appreciate this novel even more.
I do not use the word "masterpiece" loosely when describing literary works, but I can say, without any reservation that "All Quiet on the Western Front" is a literary masterpiece. If "honesty" is the true ingredient, the one essential mix, that is the foundation for any piece of literature to be considered great, well, then Mr. Remarque's novel about World War 1 meets and surpasses that test like very few novels have ever done.
Only a person who has lived through the nightmare of World War 1, could have written such an amazing and uncompromising novel about the horrors of that war. The enemy in this novel is WAR itself. Humanity, the earth with its streams and gardens, animals, and innocence are the real victims of war. Mr Remarque served during World War 1 and was wounded five times.
I decided to re-read this book, after nearly forty years, because I read a review by a young lady, Maureen"about the book in which she sums up her review with these beautiful words of poetry which she wrote in relation to this marvelous piece of literature. She wrote:
Bright red poppies in bloodied fields
Where death stalked its victims.
It cared not for age, creed, or nationality
What would they have achieved in life,
These young men, with so much yet to experience,
So many dreams to fulfil
If duty hadn't called, and they hadn't answered
When the sun set for one final time
It set on the lives they never lived
Maureen (a reviewer on Goodreads)
Top reviews from other countries
Brian Murdoch, the translator, has given us in his Afterword an excellent starting point for discussing this book. I refer to it as a ‘book’ because to call it a novel suggests something less horrific in terms of subject matter than what we find in All Quiet on the Western Front.
Brian Murdoch affirms that the key structure of the book is the contrast between terror and death set against the irrepressible ‘spark of life’. There is a secondary thematic idea in the novel, namely the opposition between youth and age as shown in the references to Kantorek, the boys’ teacher and to other older people Paul Baumer meets when on leave. They regard the soldiers as heroes who are sure to win. We are also shown the contrast between experienced older soldiers and the younger raw recruits at the front line.
These thematic points bring the book into focus as a novel as opposed to a documentary or historical account. Nevertheless it contains features of documentary in that its realism is so vivid. This is due, of course, to the fact that Remarque drew on his own experiences in the trenches. The horrors he describes give the book a strong degree of polemicism or implied denunciation of war itself. But the book’s novelistic qualities are further based round its varied characters, their qualities, idiosyncrasies, and actions, as in any novel.
It is also, of course a tragic novel on several levels: all the main characters die, almost all of terrible wounds and their after effects. The tragic features spread from the battlefield to the families at home and to the sacrifices forced on the population by hunger and the futility of the war itself. It is reflected, too, in the degradation of human relations as shown in the soldiers’ visit to the brothel in the village, though this is presented partly in terms of comic adventure.
One scene in particular encapsulates the ideas of futility, life and death, heroism that arises from fear, and pity. This is the scene that shows the one scene of hand-to-hand fighting when Paul, in his terror of death stabs one of ‘the others’ (we are deliberately not told directly of his nationality) and then tries to save his life, while the man dies a slow and agonising death in spite of these efforts. The near anonymity of the ‘others’ who are seldom referred to as enemies or by nationality, is another implied idea to show that the futility of war is not restricted to one side or the other.
Overall, this book, while making gripping, if depressing reading, is, nevertheless, virtually a ‘must read’ if we are to understand and ultimately abandon war.
R Barton 19th August 2015
I will definitely be reading other books by Erich Maria Remarque, in fact I have downloaded a couple already.
Prior to reading this book I had read Robert Graves', 'Goodbye To All That,' and Ernst Junger's 'Storm Of Steel,' both of which were interesting books. For whatever reason, I did not have high expectations for All Quiet, but upon turning the first few pages, immediately found myself gripped by its tone. Within a matter of sentences I was thrusted onto the frontline of the Western Front. Through it's gritty, often mythical force of language! From quiet contemplation to mad, titanic displays of industrial warfare! Although it is a translation, the weight of Remarque's words are experienced wholly.
As a reader you are immersed, at first, into the optimistic and humoured tone of the 'nameless soldier' and his youthful comrades ... but as the war painfully drags on, the narrative does not spare you. The tone shifts to one of despair and ultimately into a dead, stony resignation. The war consumes all -- all emotion, all youth, all hope and any thought of a return to normality. All of it is obliterated in the same swift, meaningless manner as the 'nameless soldier's' comrades.
This book is masterful and should remind its readers why it is so important to remember what happened little over a century ago.