All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel about a young soldier’s life during World War I. Or we can say that this book records how a young man walks toward the battle field with proud and excitement to how he crushes to the ground with a tired heart that is harmed by the crying guns. He does not fight for his country, but for his life and the lives around him. However, just like many soldiers, he cannot and does not have the will to escape from something worse than death.
The novel is by Erich Maria Remarque, a German author who participated in World War I himself. Became a soldier when he was 19, Remarque was sent to the western front to fight with France. There he was wounded and sent to hospital, where he spent the rest of the war. During his time in the hospital, Remarque talked with lots of soldiers that were sent to be cured or to be left to death; his own experience with the stories that he heard from others led to his great works.
Why do people put themselves on the battle field? What is the reality on the front line? What happen to them each and every day? What is the thing everyone faces that is worse than death? What is WAR? From the perspective of the main character Paul Bäumer, Remarque showed the real meaning of war- it is a competition with death and a process of losing everything you had.
“We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial- I believe we are lost.”
“We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.”
Once All Quiet on the Western Front was published, it sold 2.5 million copies in twenty-five languages in first eighteen months. Although Nazi Germany burned the books before World War II and Remarque was exiled, his works still remained popular in both German and the world.
“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.”
– Wenqing Z., 10th grade