Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

My first book for the WWI reading challenge hosted by War Through the Generations blog was this classic anti-war novel, which I'd never read.  It tells the story of a group of young men whose school master shames them into enlisting in the German Army.  It describes the fear and horror they experienced much of the time.
"We crouch behind every corner, behind every barrier of barbed wire, and hurl heaps of explosives at the feet of the advancing enemy before we run.  The blast of the hand-grenades impinges powerfully on our arms and legs; crouching like cats we run on, overwhelmed by this wave that bears us along, that fills us with ferocity, turns us into thugs, 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."  (pgs. 113-4)
And it discusses the futility of war to those who fight.

"A word of command has made these silent figures our enemies; a word of command might transform them into our friends.  At some table a document is signed by some persons whom none of us knows, and then for years together that very crime on which formerly the world's condemnation and severest penalty fall, becomes our highest aim.  But who can draw such a distinction when he looks at these quiet men with their childlike faces and apostles' beards.  Any non-commissioned officer is more of an enemy to a recruit, any schoolmaster to a pupil, than they are to us.  And yet we would shoot at them again and they at us if they were free."  (pgs. 193-4)
I rated this 3 out of 5.

1 comment:

Anna and Serena said...

Thanks for participating in the challenge. we've linked to your review on the reviews page and a snippet will appear on Feb. 3