Richard Church, himself a novelist and poet who had fought in World War I, believed that Erich Maria Remarque’s remarkable little novel allowed the reader to truly understand the horrifying and brutalizing experience of those who fought in the Great War
All Quiet on the Western Front
Sir Herbert Read was a British art historian, poet, and critic. His book of poetry, Naked Warriors (1919), reflected his own experiences in World War I. In the following viewpoint, written as a review of a half-dozen war books, he discusses why, ten years after the end of the war, people had so much interest in war literature.
When Remarque’s English publisher sent an advance copy of the novel to Sir Ian Hamilton, a British general, Hamilton wrote a letter to the publisher thanking him and telling him how true he felt the book was and how deeply it had touched him. The publisher forwarded the letter to Remarque, who responded with the letter below.
All Quiet on the Western Front has been widely praised as an antiwar novel, but William K. Pfeiler argues that more realistically the novel represents spoiled youth’s whining about the older generation.
All Quiet on the Western Front is often praised for the way it faithfully captures not only the physical experience of war, but the psychological bent of the young soldiers who were caught up in its futile and alienating brutality. Modris Eksteins, professor of history at the University of Toronto, Canada, argues that it is more accurate to say that Remarque captured the postwar mind.