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In one of his particularly interesting and forgotten novels, Der Funke Leben written , this theme is clarified when a group of Nazi concentration camp prisoners toward the end of the war meets German refugees fleeing from bombed cities. In face of the arbitrariness of death, the prisoners "are aware that fate strikes the innocent more often than the guilty," but they do not feel hatred and revenge p. Instead, they want to restore "the laws of life itself," which, according to Remarque, are often called "God," but their meaning is "humanity" p.

Murdoch rightly dissociates this reference to God from the belief in the heavenly father. Nevertheless, whereas he interprets this reference as a "real emphasis upon human existence" p. As mentioned above, even when Remarque identifies himself as "individualist" he couples it with "tolerance," which indicates a specific kind of social interrelations. This humanity--tolerance, awareness of the sufferings of others, inability to understand this suffering, and a sense of belonging to a community--is what Remarque's protagonists are persistently seeking.

The rule of chance and the inevitability of death are apparent in Remarque's entire work, and their roles in the novels are similar: just as the omnipresence of death galvanizes the will, and the struggle, to live and lightens the "spark of life," so the ultimate rule of chance stimulates the search for humanity.

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The comparative survey offered by Murdoch highlights some further significant similarities and links between the novels. Thus, for example, in many of the novels the protagonist can be understood both as a distinctive individual and as a representative of his contemporaries or, of a well determined group among his contemporaries--young soldiers, immigrants, etc.

This duality within the protagonists is one of principles that enabled Remarque to construct a complex set of mirrors, in which different novels reflect each other and add meaning to one another--sometimes even explain one another--without a definite, causal, connection between them. Thus, for instance, the protagonists of Drei Kameraden and Der schwarze Obelisk are both veterans, have similar appearances, and go through similar experiences.

As Murdoch notes, even though they are not identified as the same protagonist, the novel can be read as a continuation of the one. At the same time, the retrospective irony of the post-World War II Der schwarze Obelisk injects the earlier novel with specific political meanings pp. Arguably, the mirroring of the different novels onto one another and the vague sense of continuity between them is also reflected in the protagonist's ability to "exchange" identities.

The change of names seems to indicate a change in the identity of its carrier: as Murdoch asserts, "the loss of names is an expression of the loss of identity" p. Remarque's protagonists are different from each other, but still similar, because of the massive loss of identity, which he stages as one of the major "theme[s] of the twentieth century" p. This multi-faceted, reciprocal mirroring of the novels and the development of the recurring themes of isolation and emigration are underlined and effectively exemplified in Murdoch's book.

Murdoch's argument that Remarque should be studied and taught as a "serious" German novelist, with a genuine and intriguing perspective on the defining experiences of the twentieth century, is well-taken. This book offers a concise survey of Remarque's novels that underscores the values of his novels that have been previously overlooked. As an introductory survey, it will be an important contribution to the teaching of Remarque's works. It might even instigate a thorough study that will contextualize Remarque within the European intellectual discourse of the interwar years, and will reconsider the transformations of this discourse through the experience of exile, and its influences on Cold War ideologies.

Murdoch's book demonstrates the urgency of such a study. See, for instance, David Long and Peter Wilson, eds. Citation: Ofer Ashkenazi. H-German, H-Net Reviews. June, For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at hbooks mail. Job Guide. Discussion Networks. Reviews Home. Subscribe to H-Review. Review Guidelines. Review Standards. Book Description Palgrave. Books ship from the US and Ireland. Book Description Palgrave , Condition: G. Light marks to the cover. The book is clean and readable throughout, a decent copy.

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