Friday, June 22, 2012

Erich Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque (1928)
Erich Paul Remarque (22 June 1898 – 25 September 1970), was born on 22 June 1898 into a working-class family in the German city of Osnabrück to Peter Franz Remark (b. 14 June 1867, Kaiserswerth) and Anna Maria (née Stallknecht; born 21 November 1871, Katernberg). At the age of 16 he made his first attempts at writing; this included essays, poems, and the beginnings of a novel that was finished later and published in 1920 as The Dream Room (Die Traumbude).
During World War I, Remarque was conscripted into the army at age 18. On 12 June 1917, he was transferred to the Western Front, 2nd Company, Reserves, Field Depot of the 2nd Guards Reserve Division at Hem-Lenglet. On 26 June, he was posted to the 15th Reserve Infantry Regiment, 2nd Company, Sapper Platoon Bethe, and was stationed between Torhout and Houthulst. On 31 July, he was wounded by shrapnel in the left leg, right arm and neck, and was repatriated to an army hospital in Germany where he spent the rest of the war.
When he published All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque changed his middle name in memory of his mother and reverted to the earlier spelling of the family name to dissociate himself from his novel Die Traumbude. The original family name, Remarque, had been changed to Remark by his grandfather in the 19th century. Erich worked at a number of different jobs, including librarian, businessman, teacher, journalist and editor. His first paid writing job was as a technical writer for the Continental Rubber Company, a German tire manufacturer.
In 1927, Remarque made a second literary start with the novel Station at the Horizon (Station am Horizont), which was serialized in the sports journal "Sport im Bild" for which Remarque was working. It was published in book form only in 1998. His best known work, All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues), was written in a few months in 1927, but Remarque was not immediately able to find a publisher. The novel, published in 1929, described the experiences of German soldiers during World War I. A number of similar works followed; in simple, emotive language they described wartime and the postwar years.
In 1931, after finishing The Road Back (Der Weg zurück) Remarque left Germany.] He bought a villa in Porto Ronco in Switzerland and lived both there and in France until 1939, when he left Europe for the United States of America with his wife. They became naturalized citizens of the United States in 1947.
On 10 May 1933, the Nazis, instigated by the then Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, banned and publicly burned Remarque's works and produced propaganda claiming that he was a descendant of French Jews and that his real last name was Kramer, a Jewish-sounding name, and his original name spelled backwards. This is still cited in some biographies despite the complete lack of evidence. The Nazis also claimed, falsely, that Remarque had not done active service during World War I.
In 1943, the Nazis arrested his sister, Elfriede Scholz, who had stayed behind in Germany with her husband and two children. After a short trial in the "Volksgerichtshof" (Hitler's extra-constitutional "People's Court"), she was found guilty of "undermining morale" for stating that she considered the war lost. Court President Roland Freisler declared, "Ihr Bruder ist uns leider entwischt—Sie aber werden uns nicht entwischen" ("Your brother has unfortunately escaped us—you, however, will not escape us"). Scholz was guillotined on 16 December 1943.
His next novel, Three Comrades (Drei Kameraden), spans the years of the Weimar Republic, from the hyperinflation of 1923 to the end of the decade. Remarque's fourth novel, Flotsam (in German titled Liebe deinen Nächsten, or Love Thy Neighbour), first appeared in a serial version in English translation in Collier's magazine in 1939, and Remarque spent another year revising the text for its book publication in 1941, both in English and German. His next novel, Arch of Triumph, first published in 1945 in English, and the next year in German as Arc de Triomphe, was another instant best-seller and reached worldwide sales of nearly five million.
In 1948, Remarque returned to Switzerland, where he spent the rest of his life. There was a gap of seven years — a long silence for Remarque — between Arch of Triumph and his next work, Spark of Life (Der Funke Leben), which appeared both in German and in English in 1952. While he was writing The Spark of Life Remarque was also working on a novel, Zeit zu leben und Zeit zu sterben (Time to Live and Time to Die). It was published first in English translation in 1954 with the not-quite-literal title A Time to Love and a Time to Die. In 1958, Douglas Sirk directed the film A Time to Love and a Time to Die in Germany, based on Remarque's novel. Remarque made a cameo appearance in the film in the role of the professor.
In 1955, Remarque wrote the screenplay for an Austrian film, The Last Act (Der letzte Akt), about Hitler's final days in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, which was based on the book Ten Days to Die (1950) by Michael Musmanno. In 1956, Remarque wrote a drama for the stage, Full Circle (Die letzte Station), which played successfully in both Germany and on Broadway. An English translation was published in 1974. Heaven Has No Favorites was serialized (as Borrowed Life) in 1959 before appearing as a book in 1961 and was made into the 1977 movie Bobby Deerfield. The Night in Lisbon

“Father mowed the main road yesterday and I mowed around the tree this morning and then I cultivated corn until noon.  After dinner, I cultivated corn until about four o’clock and then I bunched hay and then cultivated until night.  Has been a very bright warm day.”
Leesah

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