22 March 2007

All Quiet on the Western Front. Erich Maria Remarque, 1929

"We are like children who have been abandoned and we are as experienced as old men, we are coarse and superficial - I think we are lost."

Erich Maria Remarque. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Little Brown (NY) or Putnams (London) 1929.

Current Selling Prices
$400-$1200 /£200-£600

The German novel of the Lost Generation - those disillusioned souls who survived the war that was supposed to end all wars. Sometimes known as the Generation of 1914 or more poetically Génération du Feu, the Generation of Fire. Madly successful novel, sold 3 million in German and the US first was 100,000 so it is never going to be scarce. Considered by some to be brutal and coarse, unhealthy German interest in latrines etc.,

Filmed and won an Oscar. The 1929 English translation by A. W. Wheen gave the title as All Quiet on the Western Front - the literal translation is in fact "Nothing New in the West" (Im Westen Nichts Neues.) The West being the term for the war front used by the German Army. Wheen's phrase has stuck and is now used in many unlikely contexts.

Probably the most famous of all WWI novels beyond even The Good Soldier Schweik, A Farewell to Arms, Her Privates We, Death of a Hero (Aldington) Parade's End, Under Fire ( Barbusse) . A memoir by his fellow countryman Ernst Junger 'Storm of Steel' is also worthy of mention. The Vietnam equivalent might be 'If I Die in a Combat Zone' by Tim O'Brien from 1973 - a memoir using some fiction techniques. A valuable book that I will cover at some point. Remarque was drafted into the German army at age 18, he was wounded several times. With Owen and many others he showed the inhumanity of war, exposers of 'The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori.'

In 1933 he had the honour of having his books burnt by the Nazis, later in Hollywood he married the beautiful Paulette Goddard. He died in 1970. He is buried in the Ronco cemetery in Ronco, Ticino, Switzerland, where Goddard is also interred. Goddard left a bequest of $20m to New York University to fund an institute for European study which is named after Remarque.

VALUE? $400 to $1400 for jacketed copies in decent state. The US is more common than the British but is a better looking book. It is possible to buy decent copies in rather used jacket s for as low as $200. A really sharp jacketed copy would leave little change from $2000. The jacket (looks like Hohlwein but seems to be signed Hensk) I feel sure is from a poster. [ W/Q ** ]

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