Erich Maria Remarque Biography


(History of the World: The 20th Century)
ph_0111204725-Remarque.jpg Erich Maria Remarque Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Article abstract: Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front, a realistic account of a soldier’s life during World War I, was perhaps the most widely read and highly influential war novel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Early Life

Erich Paul Remark, as he was known before changing his name to Erich Maria Remarque in 1920, was born on June 22, 1898, in Osnabrück, Germany. His father was a bookbinder. The family was poor and moved often; as a result, young Erich attended several different schools.

Remarque was talented in music, art, and literature, and even thought to become a professional musician. Instead, he chose to enter teacher’s training. In 1916, before he was able to begin his career as a teacher, he was drafted into the army at a time when World War I was raging. He was sent to Flanders on the western front. On July 31, 1917, he was wounded and sent to a hospital to recover. Remarque’s mother, who had been ill for some time with cancer, died while her son was in the hospital. This death appears to have profoundly affected Remarque.

During his hospital stay, Remarque began his writing career, completing a novel called Die Traumbude (1920; the dream room). The novel was published after the war, and Remarque had to sell his piano to cover printing costs. The novel, a sentimental and romantic account of his circle of friends, later proved an embarrassment to Remarque, who found the writing to be lacking in quality and maturity.

After his release from the hospital, Remarque had some trouble with authorities for wearing a lieutenant’s uniform and medals he had not earned. By all accounts a handsome young man, the medal incident demonstrated Remarque’s tendency toward flamboyance. During the early 1920’s, Remarque had several jobs before becoming an editor of Sport Im Bild (sport in pictures) in 1925. It was at this time that he married Jutta Ilse Zambona, his first wife.

Life’s Work

While at Sport Im Bild, Remarque began publishing articles and stories. No one could have predicted from these, however, that he would produce a work of such stature as Im Westen nichts Neues (1929; All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929). Reportedly, Remarque began to suffer from depression in 1927. He attributed his depressed state to his war experiences and found that many of his former comrades were also suffering negative emotional effects. Consequently, he began working on All Quiet on the Western Front for cathartic purposes. He believed that if he committed his memories to paper, he could overcome the depression they caused. The book was completed in six weeks, but Remarque was unable to find a publisher for it. Initially, All Quiet on the Western Front was serialized in the paper Vossische Zeitung in November and December of 1928 and excited a great deal of public interest.

Remarque attempted to describe his project in the brief preface to All Quiet on the Western Front: “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.” For Remarque, the most important message of his novel was that war destroys more men than it kills.

Remarque set All Quiet on the Western Front during the last two years of World War I along the German lines in France. During this time, the Germans were losing strength just as the Americans entered the war. The novel tells the story of young Paul Bäumer and his acquaintances who enlist in the German army at the urging of their teacher, Kantorek. The young recruits soon learn that war is not the glorious, heroic experience their elders have proclaimed but is instead a brutal, futile business. Remarque’s story is told from the point of view of a German foot soldier; however, his descriptions of the horrors of war transcend national boundaries. Allied and German veterans alike recognized their experiences in Remarque’s novel.

In the opening chapters of All Quiet on the Western Front, the young men spend most of their time behind the front lines recalling the past. Although they have become fairly cynical, they have not yet been subjected to the horrors of trench warfare. Then they participate in a horrendous battle that Remarque describes in graphic detail. After this first battle, Paul goes home on leave. While at...

(The entire section is 1892 words.)

Erich Maria Remarque Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Erich Maria Remarque (ruh-mahrk), author of All Quiet on the Western Front, an outstanding novel of modern war, was from a Roman Catholic family of French descent. His father was a bookbinder; the family name was Remark. Educated in Osnabrück, where he was born Erich Paul Remark on June 22, 1898, he was drafted into the German Army during World War I when he was eighteen. He was wounded by British shell fragments. After his discharge he received a government-sponsored education for teaching, but a year’s experience convinced him that he was not suited to the academic life. He tried his hand at various occupations: drama critic, salesman for a tombstone company, publicity manager for a rubber company, part-time organist in a hospital for the mentally ill, and assistant editor of Sport im Bild, an illustrated sports magazine in Berlin. Some of his bizarre experiences were later incorporated in his satirical novel The Black Obelisk. In 1925 he married Jutta Ilse (Jeanne) Zambona; they were divorced in 1930.{$S[A]Remark, Erich Paul;Remarque, Erich Maria}

In his spare time and between jobs, he worked on a war novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which was an immediate success when it was published in 1929, selling more than a million and a half copies internationally during the first year. There have been several successful film versions of the book, and the simplicity and directness of the style have enabled the...

(The entire section is 539 words.)

Erich Maria Remarque Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Erich Maria Remarque was born Erich Paul Remark in Osnabrück, Germany, on June 22, 1898, the son of a bookbinder. While he was still a schoolboy, his life was interrupted by service in World War I. Like Paul Bäumer and Ludwig Bodmer, his personas in the novels All Quiet on the Western Front and The Black Obelisk, Remarque left the classroom to fight in the west, from which he returned with war injuries.

During the postwar years, Remarque tried his hand at various pursuits, including teaching, sales work, and automobile racing. As a journalist, he wrote articles on such subjects as automobiles, travel, and liquors, as well as poetry and prose. His novel Die Traumbude appeared in 1920.

Reverting to the original French spelling of his surname, the author assumed the name Remarque and in 1925 moved to Berlin, where his writing appeared in the metropolitan press during the Weimar Republic. In the same year, he married Jutta Ilse Zambona, from whom he was divorced only a few years later. In 1927 and 1928, the novel Station am Horizont appeared in installments in a popular magazine; generated by a sketch of 1924, “Das Rennen Vanderveldes,” this work depicted an unhappy love affair played out against a background of horse racing and auto sports.

Remarque moved to Switzerland in the early 1930’s, taking with him his considerable wealth and acquiring a luxurious villa on the Italian border in Tessin. The villa was located at Porto Ronco near Ascona on Laggo Maggiore, and Remarque maintained it all of his life. The conditions of the author’s residence there and the voluntary nature of his absence from Germany were radically altered in 1933, when the Third Reich prohibited the publication and distribution of his work by consigning it to the blacklist for the crime of literary treason committed against the soldiers of World War I.

Three Comrades appeared in 1937 in the United States, and in 1938 it was published in German by the exile press Querido, in Holland. At that time, Remarque remarried his former wife in Saint Moritz. Deprived of his German citizenship, he was consigned to the fate of an estimated four hundred thousand emigrants from Nazi Germany, including some fifty thousand political and literary exiles. Many of them employed desperate means to flee an unknown fate, moving...

(The entire section is 970 words.)

Erich Maria Remarque Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although the success of his thirteen novels, notably Im Westen nichts Neues (1928, serial; 1929, book; All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929), eventually allowed him the indulgences of a glamorous lifestyle and international notoriety, Erich Paul Remark began life in modest circumstances. He was born in imperial Germany in the ancient city of Osnabrück on June 22, 1898. The Remarks were Catholic in a predominantly Protestant region and both his mother and father (Peter Remark was a book printer and binder) descended from generations of Franco-German craftsmen. Both pride in his family’s French origins and dismay over the inadequacy of his early writing led Erich in 1923 to change his name to Erich Maria Remarque...

(The entire section is 967 words.)

Erich Maria Remarque Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

One of the twentieth century’s most popular authors, Erich Maria Remarque did not receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Most literary critics would not rank him among the great German authors. His most influential work, All Quiet on the Western Front—not by literary standards his best novel—deeply touched millions of twentieth century readers. A powerful book, it is remarkably honest about the terrible fates encountered by ordinary men in a century of total wars. Similarly, Remarque’s subsequent novels give expression to the lonely, dehumanizing experiences of political prisoners, refugees, and other victims of ideologies and political extremism.

(The entire section is 101 words.)

Erich Maria Remarque Biography

(Novels for Students)

Erich Maria Remarque is considered one of the most significant war novelists in contemporary literature. In his works, he displayed his...

(The entire section is 791 words.)