Friday, 23 May 2014

“What use is it to him now that he was such a good mathematician at school?

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928)

 “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.” 

Paul Bäumer is a young German soldier on the Western Front. He conscripted with many of his fellow class mates and some of them are in the same troop. As the years go by, he watches them die one by one, and ponders about the meaning of it all.

We follow Paul in the trenches, in the hospital and home on leave. And what do we learn? That war is awful and meaningless. The intensity in the book mixed with sudden prose hit me straight in the face and it was impossible to lay down.

While reading, I kept wondering if this book would have been so powerful if it had been written from the perspective of the winning side. Because once we know that Paul is German, we know he is doomed to lose. It is definitely a really important book, and as it is a century since the Great War began, you should read it.

This was May's read in Line's 1001 books reading circle. I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise (at this time in life anyway), so I'm grateful.

2 comments:

  1. Jeg synes også denne boken var sterk, og det er interessant det du sier om den ville vært det om perspektivet var skrevet fra vinnersiden. Som deg hadde jeg sannsynligvis ikke lest den om ikke det var for lesesirkelen :)

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    1. Det gjør noe når man vet omtrent fra første setning at dette umulig kan ende godt. Og den viste jo at i en krig så er begge sider like mye mennesker. Viktig bok!

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