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Grand Illusion, All Quiet on the Western Front

Europe emerged from World War I with a different point of view than had existed before and with a new sense of the world as extending beyond the borders of Europe. This idea is mirrored in Felix Gilbert's book The End of the European Era, 1890 to the Present where he notes that Europe at the end of the nineteenth century was the center of world power. He finds that Europe was reshaped after that war and again after World War II, and a number of forces came together over that time to produce these changes, including the rise of America as a world power, the growth of the power of and perceived threat from the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution, and the tensions after World War I that made a second war seem more and more certain as time passed, leading to World War II and the destruction of much of Europe. The tensions that developed after World War I are described in different ways in a number of texts, including a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, the book by Gilbert, and the film Grand Illusion by Jean Renoir.

In Erich Maria Remarque's novel All Quiet on the Western Front, seven young men from the same school enlist in the army at the behest of their teacher to fight for the Fatherland. They enter the war all fired up with patriotic fervor and with dreams of glory and success, but the war has a devastating effect on them. They find that the reality of war is not at all like the image they have been carrying with them, and those who are not killed are destroyed in some emotional and vital part of their soul. Remarque is writing about World War I, but he is deliberate in making his book stand somewhat outside the real history of the time in order to make his point about the folly of all war. World War I is an apt metaphor for his view, however, given the disillusionment that set in after that war.

World War I had a profound effect on the young Germans of that era. Such a young person is the narrator of the story, Pau...

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Grand Illusion, All Quiet on the Western Front. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:58, August 06, 2020, from