All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Decent Essays

All Quiet on the Western Front is a short book, but remarkably deep. More than 50 years after its jolting prose, haunting poetry, and powerful truths slashed their way into the consciousness of a worldwide readership, All Quiet still stands at the forefront of a host of novels on that most tragic recurrence in the history of human experience: war. All the aspects of trench warfare are present—excitement, boredom, horror, hunger, fear, dirt, alienation, imminent death, futility, to name a few. All Quiet has a pervasive sense of uselessness, an initially unvoiced but later fully expressed question of 'Just what is this war about, and why am I being put on the line for it?' The answer is, of course, nothing, and if All Quiet has but one overriding message, it is that war is awful, and young people ought not to fight. All Quiet is not a book which glorifies the German war effort, or portrays soldiers as heroes. In Remarque's own words, it is “an attempt to give an account of a generation that was destroyed by the war—even those of it who survived the shelling.” As such, it is brutal and confronting, but in the best possible way. Anti-war fiction has seldom been this effective, or this memorable for that matter.

All Quiet tells the story of Paul Bäumer, a young man who gets talked into joining the German army by an idealistic teacher. In short, business-like sentences, Paul tells the reader about his experiences in and around the trenches, plus those of his similarly

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