Book Review: All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

reviewed by Shivam Singh

“He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All Quiet on the Western Front.”

Seven kids. Two nations. Erich Maria Remarque, who himself served in World War I brings to life the journey of Paul and his six classmates, and this conflagration of war between France and Germany that changes their lives in every possible way. Consistently being poked with “Iron Youth”, it was only a single word of command from the hedonistic statesmen that compelled them to fight against Frenchmen. This is a poignant journey of brotherhood replacing motherhood, trenches becoming homes and fictitious boundaries evoking enmity in humanity.

This book grabs every attention of the reader up until the last page, consistently raising subtle questions that the reader himself finds asking. How a single word of command from a distant statesman impacts the lives of many youths!? How they talk of patriotism and “Iron Youth” but pit the young against one another as they smoke pipes and cigars from the distance!? How different the uniforms, guns, grenades and gases are, yet the blood, the colour of the blood, remained red, down to the last drop, down to the last drop that was spilled!?

Amid the endless firing of shells and bombing grenades, the story is very well depicted as the allegory, where the orgy of slaughters can destroy endless lives. The heart wrenching witty lines and dialogues are intermittently put in the story which ameliorate this masterpiece of Remarque. The spirit of brotherhood and bonhomie is glorified in the hardships of trenches, trenches that feel like home, home that feels claustrophobic, claustrophobia that seems never to end. And when it does end, it is the calloused heart of soldiers, hardened from the macabre scenes of war, who find their lives restricted once again just to the fine and subtle line that divides life and death. How tragic, isn’t it? That’s what the draconian World War I, or also known as “War to end all wars” did to numerous lives. And Remarque captures this essence of rich imagery and serves the reader that which is both, indigenous and vernacular to the nature and landscape.

All Quiet on the Western Front in short is a remarkable book to read and not ever feel the need to put down. Millions of sales in the first few months and an academy award winning movie are testaments to the beauty of this masterpiece.

“ He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end has come “

Plot : 10/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Imagery: 9/10
Emotional Quotient: 10/10

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