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All quiet on the western front
Literary Link
Character Analysis
World War 1
Critical thinking questions
Works Cited


Paul and his fellow students join the German army of WWI with the enthusiasm of youth. After having been exposed to the atrocities of war and the pointlessness of fighting people not unlike themselves, Paul learns one thing: that war is not a means to an end. This is his story of the war from his point of view, exposing hopes and fears, loss and sorrow and depression.
Sarrah, Resident Scholar
This novel contains the thoughts, musings, and observations of a German foot soldier during the trench fighting of World War One. The prose is unromantic, matter of fact, and starkly beautiful. His introspections exact and detailed, the young man records the decline of his initial schoolboy enthusiasm into a sense of disaffected futility--and anger at those pedants, bureaucrats, and functionaries who have sent his friends and classmates to death and misery.
Damon LaBarbera, Resident Scholar
Remarque, Erich Maria(1929)
All Quiet on the Western Front
(There are) some books that I have enjoyed, and I wish that everyone who loves to read would read these. I am assuming that young people have already read the usual classics. These are books that were classics, but seem to have been forgotten....One is Jean Christophe, by Romain Rolland. The subject is a musician who lived in Paris before World War I. Rolland won the Nobel Prize for it. The second is The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney, by Henry Handel Richardson. This is a story set in colonial Australia. The third is The Trees, The Fields, The Town, by Conrad Richter. It is set in the days when Ohio was still a wilderness. The last book is All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. It is an unforgettable personal record of a young man's years in the fighting front of World War I. I could go on, but I think this is a good start. Thank you for giving me the pleasure of remembering some of my favorite books.
Reviewed by Belva Plain, Author
Many critics have hailed Remarque for writing All Quiet on the Western Front so objectively, without a trace of nationalism, political ill will, or even personal feelings. Even when a character's inner world is revealed, it always seems to be that person's inner life- not the author's. In 1929, as noted in this guidebook in The Author and His Times, the Nazis attacked the book not on literary but on political grounds, and a few reviewers accused Remarque of sensationalism. In America, magazine and newspaper reviews immediately hailed Remarque as the new Stephen Crane and his novel as an updated Red Badge of Courage. Academic critics, however, have paid little attention to All Quiet. German critics were displeased at Remarque's departure from the intellectualism of traditional German fiction, and European and American critics were put off by its being a bestseller- how could anything so popular possibly be worthwhile?
Remarque succeeded in transcending his own personal situation; he touched on a nerve of his time, reflecting the experiences of a whole generation of young men on whom the war had left an indelible mark.
-Christine R. Barker and R. W. Last,
Erich Maria Remarque, 1979.
Im Westen nichts Neues is close to him [Remarque]. It appears to be permeated with sincerity and true compassion. Its tremendous success can hardly be explained otherwise.
-Wilhelm J. Schwarz, War and the Mind of Germany, I, 1975.
...this book is an accusation of the older generation who let loose this terrible catastrophe, this monstrous war. It is an accusation of the generation that preached that service to the state was the highest aim in life.
-Wilhelm J. Schwarz, War and the Mind of Germany, I, 1975.
Anyone who was sufficiently in the thick of it for a long period, on one side or the other, might have written this grim, monotonous record, if he had the gift, which the author has, of remembering clearly, and setting down his memories truly, in naked and violent words.
-"All Quiet on the Western Front"
[book review], New Statesman, vol. 25, no. 5, 1929;
quoted in Barker and Last, Erich Maria Remarque, 1979.
This particular scene [the Kantorek incident], told with the malicious glee of an adolescent, is typical of the immature and sophomoric attitude of the heroes.
-W.K. Pfeiler, quoted in Schwarz,
War and the Mind of Germany, I, 1975.
Remarque is proposing the view that human existence can no longer be regarded as having any ultimate meaning. Baumer and his comrades cannot make sense of the world at large for the simple reason that it is no longer possible to do so, not just for this group of ordinary soldiers, but for a substantial proportion of his entire generation. Remarque refuses to lull his reader into a false sense of security, into thinking that God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.
-Christine R. Barker and R. W. Last,