Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front Audiobooktext
Erich Maria Note was stripped of her nationality in 1939. Her sister, sentenced to death by Nazi Germany for “undermining the morale of the army” was beheaded in 1943. In the west nothing new was burned in public place, censored its film adaptation. But what could possibly be so subversive about this novel?
Its universal and timeless power is first and foremost due, in my opinion, to the author’s writing: short sentences, a simple style with no sleeves or frills, a usual vocabulary, accessible to any reader, from the moment younger age. Neither did he precisely locate the places where the action took place, nor did he strictly date the facts related.
Second, the narrator, Paul Bäumer, is German, but he could be French, or of any other nationality. Erich Maria Note – All Quiet on the Western Front Audiobook.
It’s about World War I, but it could be any other war. the training imposed on young recruits by officers quasi-torturers concerns the German army, but it is common to all the armies of the world. The whole range of emotions felt by the young man is surely identical to that experienced by all young combatants, whatever their war, wherever it takes place in any period of history.
And finally, still in my opinion, perhaps the greatness of the novel lies in certain chapters, in the modesty of the facts related. Because it is a question of the day-to-day story, of the daily life of a basic sleaze, in all its acts, military of course, but also essential acts of life: common latrines, shared delousing, hunting to rats who covet rations, food-cigarette swaps, schemes to improve deplorable meals, hunger, thirst, pain.
This is not all, of course. There are also the trenches, the assaults where one advances or retreats a good meter, the battlefields where men and horses agonize loudly and for a long time, there are shells, flares, mines, gas . The men are falling like flies, to pieces. In the best of cases, the injured are evacuated to the sanitary units, where the air is saturated with the smell of blood and gangrene. There, the comrades who visit them have plenty of time to see their skeletons develop while awaiting their death.
Paul, like his childhood friends, none of whom will return from the butcher’s shop, was deceived by one of their professors in whom they had blind confidence, who, using his authority over his pupils, slyly indoctrinated them: “They for our eighteenth birthday should have been mediators and guides leading us to maturity, opening up the world of work, duty, culture and progress – preparing for the future ”(p. 17). Instead of this idyllic program, kids have committed underapres,in fear of being cowards, and started their military training: “We learned that a well-polished button is more important than four volumes of Schopenhauer. At first astonished, then irritated, and finally indifferent, we recognized that it is not the mind that seems to be preponderant, but the shoe polish brush, that it is not the thought, but the system, not freedom, but training. We had become soldiers with enthusiasm and good will, but they did everything to make us feel disgusted ”(p. 25). They make their beds fourteen times in a row to satisfy the perversion of an officer, learn to clean the floor of a barracks with a toothbrush, crawl in the mud, then “a jump forward, and briskly”, until ‘to fainting. They leave vulgar soldiers, they arrive at the front transformed into beastmen. Erich Maria Note – All Quiet on the Western Front Audiobook.
Imbued with (very) dark humor in its first chapters, in the West nothing new, gradually sinking into the vile jokes that save comrades (comradeship, the best war produced, p. 30) from madness then in despair, melancholy, indifference.
Dazzling, unequaled, pacifist and eternal homage paid to the heroic generation, the one who was sacrificed in the name of what was to be the last of the ders. Erich Maria Note – All Quiet on the Western Front Audiobook.
“So why is there war?” asks Tjaden.
“There must be some people who benefit from the war”. (p. 181)