90 pages 3 hours read

Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1929

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The Devastation of Trench Warfare

One of the most noteworthy and striking features of the novel is the graphic images presented throughout, especially during the combat sequences. The reader should be prepared to be shocked at the level of violence. However, this is intentional. With this novel, Remarque’s purpose is to present an accurate and truthful account of the war. The many depictions of how men are killed is meant to shock because it is the antithesis to the romanticized version of war that depicts it as something perhaps terrible, but in the end noble and honorable. What Remarque shows us is that in this war, there was no ideal; instead, there was only the truth of what happened. This is what makes the novel a work of literary realism.

The narrator Paul does not provide an exposition on the purpose of trench warfare. He does not give a history of its use, nor does he attempt to analyze the strategic determinations as to how one side wins and one side loses. The reader must consult elsewhere if he or she wishes to learn the answers to these questions. For the duration of the novel, most of what the reader can gather is that there is the German front and the enemy front, usually French and English.