Have you read any good books lately? I have just finished’ All Quiet on the Western Front’ by Erich Maria Remarque. Have you read it? It’s brilliant, some bits made me cry. I wont tell you the ending because you should read it if you haven’t already.
It’s about a group of boys, aged 18 or 19, all from the same class at school, who are called up during the first world war. It’s fictional, though Remarque was at the front during the war, so I’m guessing it’s fairly realistic. The thing that makes it even more interesting is that they are German, so you glimpse how they saw us, the enemy. It is very well written. I read a translation by Brian Murdoch and it was very easy to read, didn’t feel like a translation at all.
I think the aspect that touched me most was that the soldiers all knew each other so well. I think of young men being killed and it affecting their parents, sisters, wives. I had never really appreciated how they had sometimes grown up together, they were watching their friends die. There’s one part, when one of the characters dies and Remarque writes:
“After a few minutes he sinks down like a rubber tyre when the air escapes. What use is it to him now that he was so good at mathematics at school?”
You cannot read this book and escape how awful war is and how pointless it can seem to the young soldiers who are actually fighting it. They often discuss why they are there, what they are achieving and they never really solve it. It’s interesting because they have no hatred for the enemy, they are just doing their duty, what is expected of them. They are angry but the anger is directed at the governments, the powers that caused the war. They see it as pointless.
I read a version I bought from Amazon which is part of ‘The Collector’s Library’. They are tiny hard backed books – perfect for having in your bag when forced on shopping trips with your family. I have a few of them.
Thank you for reading.
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