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German LiteratureThe Problem of Language in All Quiet on the Western Front For it is no easy undertaking I say to describe the bottom of the Universe nor is it for tongues that only babble childs play The Inferno XXXII 7-9 Erich Maria Remarques All Quiet on the Western Front a novelset in World War I centers around the changes wrought by the war on oneyoung German soldier During his time in the war Remarques protagonistPaul Baumer changes from a rather innocent Romantic to a hardened andsomewhat caustic veteran More importantly during the course of thismetamorphosis Baumer disaffiliates himself from those societalicons--parents elders school religion--that had been the foundation ofhis pre-enlistment days This rejection comes about as a result ofBaumers realization that the pre-enlistment society simply does notunderstand the reality of the Great War His new society then becomesthe Company his fellow trench soldiers because that is a group which doesunderstand the truth as Baumer has experienced it Remarque demonstrates Baumers disaffiliation from thetraditional by emphasizing the language of Baumers pre- andpost-enlistment societies Baumer either can not or chooses not tocommunicate truthfully with those representatives of his pre-enlistment andinnocent days Further he is repulsed by the banal and meaninglesslanguage that is used by members of that society As he becomes alienatedfrom his former traditional society Baumer simultaneously is able tocommunicate effectively only with his military comrades Since the novelis told from the first person point of view the reader can see how thewords Baumer speaks are at variance with his true feelings In his prefaceto the novel Remarque maintains that a generation of men weredestroyed by the war Remarque All Quiet Preface Indeed in All
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