From the detention centre on Ellis Island, Ludwig Somner looks across a small stretch of water to the glittering towers of New York, which whisper seductively of freedom after so many years of wandering through a perlious, suffering Europe.
Remarque's final novel, left unfinished at his death, tells of the precarious life of the refugee – life lived in hotel lobbies, on false passports, the strange, ill-assorted refugee community held together by an unspeakable past. For Somner, each new luxury - ice cream served in drugstores, bright shop windows, art, a new suit, a new romance - has a bittersweet edge. Memories of war and inhumanity continue to resurface even in this peaceful promised land.
A haunting snapshot of a unique time, place and predicament, this is another powerful comment from Remarque on the devastating effects of war.
A full-cast dramatisation of one of the greatest war novels of all time.
First published as a novel in 1929, All Quiet on the Western Front tells the story of a group of young German soldiers who are enduring, and then coming to terms with, the realities of the First World War.
At the age of 19, following the outbreak of the First World War, Paul Bäumer enlists in the German Army. He is deployed to the Western Front, where the experience of life and death in the trenches has an enormous effect on him. He begins to feel disconnected from his past life: his family, his love of poetry, and his feelings. As the war progresses, Paul becomes increasingly lost in battle.
Haunting yet comic, lyrical yet desperate, the novel became a bestseller on its original publication. It inspired an Oscar-winning film of the same name, and has been adapted for television and stage. This powerful radio dramatisation stars Robert Lonsdale as Paul Bäumer, with a supporting cast including Simon Trinder, Stephen Critchlow, Carolyn Pickles and Malcolm Tierney.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY SEBASTIAN FAULKS
'We are no longer young men. We've lost any desire to conquer the world. We are refugees. We are fleeing from ourselves. From our lives. We were eighteen and had begun to love the world and to love being in it; but we had to shoot at it. The first shell to land went straight for our hearts. We've been cut of from real action, from getting on, from progress. We don't believe in those things any more; we believe in the war.'
Written in memory of a generation of young men who arrived at the front fresh from the schoolroom, a generation utterly devasted by war, because the few that survived were left unfit for peace; at once tender and brutal, immediate and profound - All Quiet on the Western Front is a testament to the pity, horror and waste of the First World War, and a passionate plea to prevent its repetition.
Erich Maria Remarque was born in 1899. He fought and was injured in the trenches in the First World War when he was eighteen years old. He was exiled and his works were burnt by the Nazis. He lived in America and Switzerland and married and divorced his first wife twice before marrying the celebrated Hollywood actress Paulette Goddard. He published several novels after All Quiet on the Western Front, the most famous of which is The Road Back. He died in 1970.
Brian Murdoch was born in 1944. He is Professor of German at Stirling University.