Monday, May 9, 2011

Book 13

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

With all this time on my hands I at least get the chance to knock off some books on my "25 Before I'm 25" list. All Quiet on the Western Front is a classic in itself, a little peak inside the soldier's trials at war, and it is a book I can't recommend enough to those who haven't had the chance to study World War One. I took a European history course last fall and it was incredibly insightful, and this book just open's up the most important thing to be understood about any war: that it was old men talking and young men dying.

The protagonist, an 18-year-old German soldier barely an adult, is thrust into the war with the Germans, fighting against Britain and France, but continually questions what exactly he and his commerades are fighting for. He writes with such vivid detail the blasts felt from a hand grenade, the hunger in the soldier's belly, the brown, torn earth.

In particular, some favourite excerpts from All Quiet on the Western Front are the ones that give the reader an idea of war. On page 114 he describes the ferociousness the soldiers embrace, transforming "into murderers, into God only knows what devils; this wave that multiplies our strength with fear and madness and greed of life, seeking and fighting for nothing but our deliverance. If your own father came over with them you would not hesitate to fling a bomb at him."

We are so fortunate a generation to not be forced to fight for our country. Later still he writes this, my favourite: "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" (p. 263).

Please read this!

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised you haven't read this book yet. I remember reading it in high school in English class. His descriptions are incredible and heart wrenching. I remember being struck by the things they were compassionate about and the things that didn't matter. Like the boots. Such a good read!



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