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Jul 24, 2003

All Quiet on the Western Front 



Paul is still the ultimate hero for me. He is the protagonist of Eric Maria Remarque's 'gigantically influential novel' (this is a borrowed phrase from someone else) , All Quiet on the Western Front. Paul is no superman, he is just a teenage German soldier in WW1, as human as they come. For me, this Remarque novel is the greatest piece of fiction I have read till now, none other has come anywhere close. I borrowed it from the local library and read it when I was thirteen, I had a diary(no I didn't have a computer back then) in which had jotted down passages from this book, which I re-read every once in a while. This was one of those books which makes you want to stop every passerby and thrust this book into her/his hands and plead them to read.

One of them goes like this, "Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction that I stabbed. But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony. Forgive me comrade; how could you be my enemy?"

I saw the movie (the 1930 version, haven't seen the other two) a while back. It was a good movie considering its age, but all the dialogues that makes the book the classic it is, were cut short in the movie - otherwise we'd have had a movie 5-6 hour long. So as usual with books turned into movies this one also fails to standup to its printed version. For all those avid readers, who are yet to read this book(not many I guess), I urge them to do it ASAP.

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