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Arch of Triumph: A Novel
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An old favorite of mine.
A friend asked me to recommend a Remarque novel. We discussed 'All Quiet...'. My reply follows: 'Sure, in fact one of my favorites of Remarque's books is a thinly veiled portrait of Marlene Dietrich; or rather the intertwining of her life with his in Paris at the eve the period up to war in Europe, the year before the WW2 broke out.---
The English title is 'Arch of Triumph'. Like with all Remarque's books, the title is full of irony, and undercurrents of double meanings. Naturally, the book is not officially about Marlene, but she is hard to miss. Rather the book is personal,and has a good amount of autobiographical flavor. Yet, it is a captivating and suspenseful novel.
Like the two protagonists in the novel, Remarque and Dietrich were themselves at a desparate point in their lives in 1939.
Side comment: I am afraid that a lot is lost in the translation of Remarque's books. He only wrote in German, even when he lived in the US.
In any case, Remarque is a master of a suspenseful openings, in his novels. This one does not disapoint! Lots of his books are about refugee life of sorts. Another of Remarque's novels I often return to is 'Night in Lisbon', and it is again about escape from a Europe at high noon, just as Europe is going up in flames before WW2.'
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 1999
One of the best books I've ever read and a true Remarque. Showing how love can suddenly bring a person back to life, provide a function for living. Telling about finding a way to rid oneself of the burden of past, without having to forget it. Bigtime recommendtion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 1998
The struggles of a brilliant surgeon who is also an illegal refugee in pre-WWII Paris are the subject of this fine work of fiction. As Dr.Ravic scrapes together some meaning and purpose for his shadow existence, the reader begins to understand why his determined faith in the human spirit gives him the will to persist as European civilization seems about to collapse around him. A story of great love, impossible revenge, and greater justice, this book may be a guide to those whose personal struggles against forces in today's destructive culture seem overwhelming.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 1998
'Arch of Triumph' is a book which becomes your friend, and you want to read it again, and each time you are discovering something else. It makes you think about what is really important in life, and at the same time it is a story about war, love, trust, friendship, humanity ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2010
This is one of Remarque's most famous novels, it was even adapted into a movie, and though it was a very enjoyable read since I read Three Comrades from him first, I couldn't not feel like this one lacked something, I was missing the 'essence' of the novel. In my opinion Three Comrades is more original and has Remarque style in a much more pure and raw way. But I guess if you start with this one you'll enjoy it. I personally prefered Three Comrades, which became one of my all-time favourite novels, I would highly recommend it!
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on 18 January 2013
The setting is France 1939; Europe is in the shadow of the impending war whilst in the shadow of L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris harbours an underground, a twilight-life of illegal immigrants and prostitutes, anonymity and destitution, whorehouses, back street abortions and seedy hotels. The parallel is both intentional and implicit!
Joan Madou, a singer of African Italian decent wanders the streets in shock after finding her lover dead in their hotel room. A chance meeting on Pont de l'Alma introduces her (and us) to Ravic, a German speaking Czech veteran of WWI now living and practising illegally in France as a doctor (I presume he comes from the Sudetenland but we are not explicitly told). Initially Ravic takes her for a prostitute but realises his mistake and is drawn into helping her by his altruistic bent. A passionate relationship ensues despite Ravic's better judgement, waxing toward a two week idyllic climax in the Mediterranean sun of Cannes. This 'meeting of the minds' wanes thereafter however, initiated by Ravic's unexpected deportation, again the result an impromptu act of kindness and strength. In his absence Joan destabilizes and finds another lover, whilst shortly after his return to Paris, a person from Ravic's past appears offering him a chance to avenge some of the wounds he carries. As the relationship with Joan breaks down Ravic's focus changes and Joan starts playing manipulative emotional games. Their emotional baggage is to some extent exposed and 'unpacked' so that that which birthed their mutual attraction now also repels Ravic and torments Joan. Eventually Ravic's focus is singularly set upon revenge. The novel ends the day after Germany invades Poland and war is declared.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2014
Labours on romance & the personal struggles of insecurity , viewed through those perpetually being hunted, & made homeless by the rise of fascism in Germany & prevailing attitudes of acceptance in Europe. Peace in our time etc

The characters are not all Jews which also gives this book additional insight

As a read well worth it but the lack of security, revealed by the characters, drives you nuts you couldn't live like it # but they did!
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