Few books have made so great an impact, political or literary, as Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, the most famous of all anti-war novels. Startling in its realism, intensely moving in its humanity, banned and burned in Germany by the Nazis, it was an international publishing sensation that has never been equalled and has remained a worldwide bestseller for more than seventy years.
But who was Remarque While the title of his masterpiece has entered the language as a catchphrase, the name of the author is virtually unknown. In this first British biography, Hilton Tims peels away the veil of anonymity Remarque wove to protect his privacy, to reveal a man whose life was one of the most romantic and anguished of the twentieth century.
Remarque was a self made-man - born into a poor family, he moulded himself into a connoisseur of art whose collection became one of the finest in Europe, and an author whose novels brought him wealth, fame and vast readership. He was also the lover of some of the world's most desirable women. At the core of his life was a long-lasting affair with Marlene Dietrich who helped him to flee from the Nazis as Europe went to war. Arch of Triumph, the bestseller he wrote while a stateless émigré in Hollywood, was inspired by the ecstacy and torment Dietrich caused him. Other lovers included Greta Garbo, Dolores del Rio, Maureen O'Sullivan (the 'Jane' of the Tarzan films), the tragic Lupe Velez, the double Oscar winner Luise Rainier, and Paulette Goddard, who became his second wife.
Behind the glamour he was a troubled man, haunted by the political fall-out from his famous book, an embittered exile from the Germany he loved, tortured by the infidelities of his first wife, and by the fate of his favourite sister who paid a terrible price in his name at the hands of the Nazis.
In Germany, the country that reviled him for most of his life, Remarque is today acclaimed as a literary giant. The rest of the world has forgotten him. Hilton Tims has succeeded in creating a potent and fascinating reminder.
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Published September 19, 2013
Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, History.