The Hero Cannot Live In A Quiet, Safe Environment And Choose A Profession Related To The Risk Or "Extreme" Lifestyle. Essays Examples
The term "lost generation" appears in the interval between the two world wars. It becomes a main theme of many writers of the time, but it fully manifested in the works of the famous German writer Erich Maria Remarque. The term is attributed to the American writer Gertrude Stein, whom Remarque described in several of his novels.
"Lost generation" were called the young soldiers who participated in World War I and returned home physically or mentally mutilated. After the war, these people were unable to return to normal life. They are survivors of the horrors and dangers of war, who saw ordinary life as gray, unworthy of attention. We can specify the main features of the “lost generation” literature:
The main characters are people who came from the war, and cannot find a place in civilian life. Their return shows a huge difference in mentality of those who fought and those who did not fight.
Characters often live outside their homeland, the very concept of home to them does not exist: they are people who have lost a sense of stability, attachment to anything.
As the leading genre of "lost generation" literature was a novel, the characters passed the test of love, but the relationship was tragic and usually doomed: the world is not stable, and therefore does not give the feeling of harmonious existence. With the theme of love is also related to the motive doom of mankind: the characters do not have children. A woman is infertile, or lovers do not want to let the child live in a brutal and unpredictable world, or one of the characters dies.
Ethical and moral beliefs of the character, as a rule, have some faults, but the writer does not judge him for it. For a person that has passed through the horrors of war many of the values lose their traditional meaning.
Published in 1929 the novel "All Quiet on the Western Front," laid the foundation for his subsequent work. Here he described the wrong side of the war, with all its filth, cruelty and complete lack of romantic gloss, and the daily lives of young soldiers, soldiers, surrounded by horror, blood and fear of death. They have not yet become a "lost generation", but very soon will be, and Remarque, with some emotional detachment, tells us exactly how this happens. It was his first great success.
It is a history of death in the war of seven classmates, poisoned with chauvinistic propaganda in the schools of Imperial Germany and their school of life in Verdun, in damp trenches of the Somme. The definitions of good and evil were destroyed there, the moral principles - impaired. In the blink of an eye boys turned into soldiers, soon to be killed without any purpose. They gradually realized their terrifying loneliness and impending doom, war made them elder then they should have been. The only way out was death.
The main characters of the novel, yesterday's students, are only nineteen years old. All that seemed sacred and inviolable, in the face of a hurricane of fire and mass graves - is insignificant and worthless. They have no life experience, but what they learned in school and school cannot teach how to relieve the pain of the dying, how to crawl under fire, dragging a wounded comrade. For these youngsters the war is frightening, because they do not understand in the name of what are sent to the front, in the name of whom should they kill the French.
Paul Bäumer goes home on vacation, but the return does not bring him resting. He feels that he now has neither future, nor the past. There is only the front, and the fear of death of comrades. Inspecting the documents of a Frenchman he had killed, Bäumer says, " Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony--Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?"
In the early thirties Remarque published his next novel "The Return", which with amazing accuracy tells about people immediately after the war. They do not see the opportunity to live normally, but acutely experiencing senselessness, violence, disorder and dirt of life, still trying to somehow exist, albeit without much success. Some veterans are forced to return to the school desks because they had no time to finish it before the war, others who have worked before the war, cannot find any job in the period of post-war devastation and unemployment. They had their past taken away and now they have no future.
In the next novel "Three Comrades" Remarque again, with even greater conviction, shows the “lost generation`s” complete hopelessness and lack of any future. They suffered from one war and the next is just about to swallow them. Here he also shows the characters of the "lost generation". Remarque shows these people as crude and decisive, who do not believe in words, but believe in deeds, who recognize only specific help their comrades, ironic and cautious in relationships with women.
Heroes of Remarque`s books find short-lived consolation in friendship and in love, drinking alcohol, which has also become one of the essential features of the novels of Remarque. Alcohol gives temporary calmness, replaces the cultural leisure of the heroes, not interested in art, music and literature. Love, friendship and drinking has become for them a form of protection from the outside world, that accepted war as a way to solve petty political problems and that subjected the official culture to the ideology of militarism and promotion of the cult of violence.
Almost desperate heroes Remarque believe that all the love and friendship is stronger than death, and the hope is always there. Through all the dirt and the ugliness of life we can see faith in the power of strong friendship and true love.
Among them were immigrants with different backgrounds, people with different fates, but they were all outstanding representatives of a lost generation.
These people became heroes of novels and Remarque. Writer nowhere calls, teaches nothing. He tells the reader about their peers about their thoughts and experiences about the life of the soldiers, women and vodka. Life seems meaningless and pointless.
Pacifist individualism is prevalent in Remarque`s books over an open anti-fascism. His love for alcohol and women can be seen in his works. He was a child of war and a creator of the “lost generation” literature and every book is his autobiography.
Bork-Goldfield, Iris, and Hans Wagener. 'Understanding Erich Maria Remarque'. German Studies Review 18.2 (1995): 361. Web.
Owen, C. R. Erich Maria Remarque, A Critical Bio-Bibliography. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984. Print.
Weinberg, Robert A. 'A Lost Generation'. Cell 126.1 (2006): 9-10. Web.