All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

While away in Northumberland I read All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, in fact I read it twice, in a good, fluent 1994 translation by Brian Murdoch.

It’s not a memoir but a novel with all that means in terms of compressing and simplifying events. There’s a handful of characters, from the narrator’s schooldays, and one by one they are killed off. Scenes are cinematically vivid, like the famous artillery attack in the graveyard. Most of all, the narrator, Paul, is continually on the edge of a nervous breakdown, oppressed by the horror and the meaninglessness of war but also by his own miserable, poverty-stricken family life.

A grim, intense read.

Related links

Other blog posts about the First World War

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