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Arch of Triumph: A Novel of a Man Without a Country

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It is 1939. Despite a law banning him from performing surgery, Ravic – a German doctor and refugee living in Paris – has been treating some of the city’s most elite citizens for two years on the behalf of two less-than-skillful French physicians. Forbidden to return to his own country, and dodging the everyday dangers of jail and deportation, Ravic manages to hang on – all It is 1939. Despite a law banning him from performing surgery, Ravic – a German doctor and refugee living in Paris – has been treating some of the city’s most elite citizens for two years on the behalf of two less-than-skillful French physicians. Forbidden to return to his own country, and dodging the everyday dangers of jail and deportation, Ravic manages to hang on – all the while searching for the Nazi who tortured him back in Germany. And though he’s given up on the possibility of love, life has a curious way of taking a turn for the romantic, even during the worst of times…


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It is 1939. Despite a law banning him from performing surgery, Ravic – a German doctor and refugee living in Paris – has been treating some of the city’s most elite citizens for two years on the behalf of two less-than-skillful French physicians. Forbidden to return to his own country, and dodging the everyday dangers of jail and deportation, Ravic manages to hang on – all It is 1939. Despite a law banning him from performing surgery, Ravic – a German doctor and refugee living in Paris – has been treating some of the city’s most elite citizens for two years on the behalf of two less-than-skillful French physicians. Forbidden to return to his own country, and dodging the everyday dangers of jail and deportation, Ravic manages to hang on – all the while searching for the Nazi who tortured him back in Germany. And though he’s given up on the possibility of love, life has a curious way of taking a turn for the romantic, even during the worst of times…

30 review for Arch of Triumph: A Novel of a Man Without a Country

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    What does it mean to lose one’s country? What does it mean to lose one’s past? “Mr. Ravic is a lost man. He will never build a home for himself.” “What?” Veber asked in astonishment. “What’s that you are saying?” “There is no longer anything sacred to Mr. Ravic. That’s the reason.” Loneliness and despair and no future… But life must continue and even lost souls try to find their way to the light… “And all that was before never happened.” “No. I have forgotten it.” He felt the light ebb and flow of her What does it mean to lose one’s country? What does it mean to lose one’s past? “Mr. Ravic is a lost man. He will never build a home for himself.” “What?” Veber asked in astonishment. “What’s that you are saying?” “There is no longer anything sacred to Mr. Ravic. That’s the reason.” Loneliness and despair and no future… But life must continue and even lost souls try to find their way to the light… “And all that was before never happened.” “No. I have forgotten it.” He felt the light ebb and flow of her breath. Invisibly and tenderly, it was vibrating toward him, without heaviness, ready and full of confidence – a strange life in a strange night. Suddenly he felt his blood. It mounted and mounted and it was more than that: life, a thousand times cursed and welcomed, often lost and rewon – an hour ago still a barren landscape, arid, full of rocks, and without consolation – and now gushing, gushing as if from many fountains, resounding and close to the mysterious moment in which one had not believed any more – one was the first man again, on the shore of the ocean and out of the waves emerged, white and radiant, question and answer in one, it mounted and mounted, and the storm began above his eyes. To live again one must join the world of the living… And love is the way. “Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

  2. 4 out of 5

    Agnieszka

    I‘ve tried to write review for Arch of Triumph and I’ve failed. So instead of it some impressions. It’s a love story and grief story; it’s Paris of expatriates, cheap brothels and shabby cafés; it’s hotel International, mecca for fugitives from every corner of Europe, with its rooms embellished with portraits of fascists or their democratic counterparts, depends on whom current exiles are; it’s sea of calvados, nocturnal wanderings, ambience of nostalgia and decadency and harbinger of impendin I‘ve tried to write review for Arch of Triumph and I’ve failed. So instead of it some impressions. It’s a love story and grief story; it’s Paris of expatriates, cheap brothels and shabby cafés; it’s hotel International, mecca for fugitives from every corner of Europe, with its rooms embellished with portraits of fascists or their democratic counterparts, depends on whom current exiles are; it’s sea of calvados, nocturnal wanderings, ambience of nostalgia and decadency and harbinger of impending disaster. It’s doctor Ravic, somewhat cynical and disillusioned refugee from Germany. It’s not his real name but it has brought him luck for last two years so he sticks to it. He needs neither your support nor pity and tries to not become accustomed to anything, neither place nor people, things or love, not even to a body , after all you never know when you again will have to run away. It’s an old porter Boris, émigré from Russia driven by desire for revenge on executioners of his father. It’s a second-rate actress and singer Joan Madou, at first glance fragile and helpless poor thing. But that's an illusion. She is all primary strength and instinct. She gave herself to whatever she did …Such women were nothing but drinking, when they drank ; nothing but love when they loved; nothing but desperation when they were desperate; and nothing but forgetfulness when they forgot . Sometimes love catches us off guard and unsolicited falls in our arms. We can defend against it with harsh words and apparent indifference, though nothing works better than bottle of cognac or calvados, or both, and then one more bottle since night is still young, you can say whatever you want, nobody’s listening, pour me calvados, your place or mine ?, let’s drink, salute ! And sometimes it doesn't work. Remarque masterfully rendered city at the brink of war, inhospitable hotel rooms like poor substitutes for homes, brothels with its makeshift love, sordid cafés you can hide in before loneliness. I’m not sure why this novel appeals to me that way. Am I attracted by that dark aura of pre-war Paris that still doesn’t believe that war it’s just at it gates, or that existential sadness that protagonists try to suppress in spouts of alcohol, or this impossible love and shared solitude, or that Ravic despite his skepticism, cynicism even remains so righteous and idealistic in his deeds, or perhaps these scenes like from kitschy melodrama and love words sometimes so clichéd that you eventually have no other choice like to believe them ?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Erich Maria Remarque is best known for his classic masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front. Arch of Triumph may not be equal to that but it is very good, a beautifully written novel that stands on it's own merit and one that I enjoyed reading from start to finish. The setting is 1938 Paris, nervous about the unrest in Europe prior to the start of World War II, and filled with expatriates and refugees of many nationalities. Ravic is an accomplished German surgeon, and having fled Nazi Germany, Erich Maria Remarque is best known for his classic masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front. Arch of Triumph may not be equal to that but it is very good, a beautifully written novel that stands on it's own merit and one that I enjoyed reading from start to finish. The setting is 1938 Paris, nervous about the unrest in Europe prior to the start of World War II, and filled with expatriates and refugees of many nationalities. Ravic is an accomplished German surgeon, and having fled Nazi Germany, he is living in Paris without passport or documantation. He finds work by performing surgery for two, less than average, French doctors. Really his main goal is to avoid capture and deportation, and survive the coming maelstrom of war. Amid all this turmoil, just when he should least expect it, he falls in love with Joan, an actress. The characters are few in this novel, really Ravic and Joan drive most of the stories plot, so Remarque has time to fully develop these very interesting characters and this intriguing story line. The reader can feel the tension of the city and fear of it's people in the words of Remarque, and you are left with a feeling of hopelessness for everyone. Remarkable book, I loved it. 4.5 stars. Review revised November 2017.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    An exiled German doctor living in Paris in 1939. This had all the indicia of a great novel and it was very good, I enjoyed reading it. The first half sets up the plot of a German, Ravic, though that is not his real name – he is literally a man without a country; Germany has exiled him and France will not recognize his medical license because of his political status. He earns a living “assisting” French physicians, though he does the surgeries for them and receives a quarter or a tenth of the pay An exiled German doctor living in Paris in 1939. This had all the indicia of a great novel and it was very good, I enjoyed reading it. The first half sets up the plot of a German, Ravic, though that is not his real name – he is literally a man without a country; Germany has exiled him and France will not recognize his medical license because of his political status. He earns a living “assisting” French physicians, though he does the surgeries for them and receives a quarter or a tenth of the pay treating prostitutes and performing abortions and forced to live in a shady hotel because of his legal status. Set just before World War II, but with the specter of war shadowing everything, this also references his exile into Spain and there are many allusions to Franco’s autocratic reign and his affinity with German fascism. Introspective and dark, Remarque’s prose is stark yet descriptive, reminiscent of Hemingway. His descriptions of 1930s Paris is noteworthy. This is also in some ways antithetical to Donne’s famous notion that “no man is an island” as Remarque has cast his protagonist as a post-modern isolated man – separated from his nationality, and this then raises many questions about a person’s relationship with his country, his fellow man, his ideals, morals and religion. Fans of his masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front will want to read this to realize his considerable ability.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    My thoughts a bit into the book: THIS is fantastic! What lines! Did you know that Remarque died in 1970? He didn't JUST write about WW1. Here the year is 1938. The Spanish Civil War, the build-up to WW2 and refugees in Paris are all part of this book. Interesting and exciting and marvelously written. And you want to know why the main character is as he is. You simply MUST understand. Slowly it unfolds. Good stuff. Me, I am enjoying myself as I read this. And on completion? Everything that I loved w My thoughts a bit into the book: THIS is fantastic! What lines! Did you know that Remarque died in 1970? He didn't JUST write about WW1. Here the year is 1938. The Spanish Civil War, the build-up to WW2 and refugees in Paris are all part of this book. Interesting and exciting and marvelously written. And you want to know why the main character is as he is. You simply MUST understand. Slowly it unfolds. Good stuff. Me, I am enjoying myself as I read this. And on completion? Everything that I loved when I began the book remained valid through to the very end. Ravic and Joan are the two main characters. Ravic is a stateless refugee and an accomplished German surgeon. He is not Jewish; he is not a supporter of the Nazi regime. He is living in Paris without papers and thus forbidden to preform surgeries. His surgical skills are excellent; he has to make a living so he performs surgeries for "acclaimed" French doctors who are inept. They get the acclaim of his prowess, but he survives. He is about 40. He is stateless because he is wanted by the Nazis for hiding two people - a Jewish writer and a man who saved his life fighting in WW1. He has been mercilessly tortured and sent to concentration camp, from which he escaped. All of this explains why at the beginning of the story he is stateless, without papers and living in France, Paris to be exact. The year is 1938 and the story continues through to 1939. Ravic has one aim beyond simply surviving, to get revenge on that Nazi who has tortured him and those he loved. Is it just revenge or is it his duty to shoulder punishment of crimes committed ? Doesn't each and every one of us have to share the burden of retribution? This theme turns the book into a crime novel and the tension mounts as you reach the end. Another central theme is how war forever alters those who living through them. Ravic took part in the Spanish Civil War too. The book is NOT about war experiences per se but rather about their personal consequences, and the larger perspective of the many who lived through the 20th Century. Through Ravic you see the consequences of history on an individual. I came to understand Ravic. There is another central character - Joan, who he falls in love with. Joan is another completely different story and I felt the book did not explain as well why she was who she was. This is why my appreciation of the book was less than magnificent. Really gorgeous writing. Remarque draws Paris superbly, Paris and how it looks and smells and the tension of those times. You follow the events of history through the life of Ravic, his one year hidden in France. The narration by Ralph Cosham is totally fantastic. It was never too exaggerated to increase tension, but boy does it mount. The excellence of the narration was a total surprise for me since when I listened to the sample I thought it would be way too old-fashioned. No, it was just perfect. And the voices of the women were perfect too. Smooth, calm, pitch-perfect! I loved the narration, and I highly recommend listening to this book rather than reading a paper copy. And the ending? It fit; it ended as it had to end given Ravic's character and what he had lived through.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Agnes

    One of my favorite books. Remarque at it's best. This book transforms you back in time to post war Paris. You can small the dusty streets, cigars and Calvados in the air when you read it. It will leave you nostalgic and hungry for true love and romance straight from the vintage 30s. One of my favorite books. Remarque at it's best. This book transforms you back in time to post war Paris. You can small the dusty streets, cigars and Calvados in the air when you read it. It will leave you nostalgic and hungry for true love and romance straight from the vintage 30s.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Remarque has a great humanistic way to tell a simple story, while inspiring a greater idea or a state of mind. While Arch of Triumph is definitely mainly a love story between German refuge Ravic, and wannabe actress Joan Madou, it is also a dooming testament to the injustices of life. And it is also a stark witness to the tragedy of war, and the dark human instincts that precipitate it. Being a strong pacifist, Remarque, who served in World War I, tries once again to present not only the useless Remarque has a great humanistic way to tell a simple story, while inspiring a greater idea or a state of mind. While Arch of Triumph is definitely mainly a love story between German refuge Ravic, and wannabe actress Joan Madou, it is also a dooming testament to the injustices of life. And it is also a stark witness to the tragedy of war, and the dark human instincts that precipitate it. Being a strong pacifist, Remarque, who served in World War I, tries once again to present not only the uselessness of war, but its inevitability too. I really liked the characters in this one, which are mainly Ravic and Joan, since the plot is so centered on the love story. They felt so close to me, and even if Joan is made to look artificial at times, I could almost feel her inner instinct to charm and seduce, while posing off as innocent at the same time. But at the end, those people are just caught up in the turmoil of their times, trying their best to adapt and live their lifes. And be it the boy with the cut leg, or the American Kate who has incurable cancer, life keeps beating them up, but they never give up. Because the Arch of Triumph stands at the end, sometimes gloomy, but always magnificent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nastya

    This one is filled to the brim with melancholy. This story follows refugees in Paris in 1939 and especially Ravic, German refugee doctor. The war is coming and French are in denial. “We have! We have one Hindenburg, one Kaiser Wilhelm, one Bismarck, and”—the landlady smiled—“even one of Hitler in a raincoat. It’s a pretty complete collection.[...] Do you want to see the picture? It is in the cellar.” “Not now. Not in the cellar. I’d rather see it when all the rooms in the hotel are filled with th This one is filled to the brim with melancholy. This story follows refugees in Paris in 1939 and especially Ravic, German refugee doctor. The war is coming and French are in denial. “We have! We have one Hindenburg, one Kaiser Wilhelm, one Bismarck, and”—the landlady smiled—“even one of Hitler in a raincoat. It’s a pretty complete collection.[...] Do you want to see the picture? It is in the cellar.” “Not now. Not in the cellar. I’d rather see it when all the rooms in the hotel are filled with the same sort of pictures.” The landlady looked sharply at him for a moment. “Ah so,” she said then. “You mean when they come as refugees.” ***** Ravic drank his cognac. The Frenchmen at the next table were still talking about their government. About France’s failure. About England. About Italy. About Chamberlain. Words, words. The only ones who did something were the others. They were not stronger, only more determined. They were not braver, they only knew that the others wouldn’t fight. Postponement—but what did they do with it? Did they arm themselves, did they make up for lost time, did they pull themselves together? They watched the others going ahead arming themselves—and waited, passively hoping for a new postponement. The story of the herd of seals. Hundreds of them on a beach; among them the hunter killing one after the other with a club. Together they could easily have crushed him—but they lay there, watching him come to murder, and did not move; he was only killing a neighbor—one neighbor after the other. The story of the European seals. The sunset of civilization. Tired shapeless Götterdämmerung. The empty banners of human rights. The sell-out of a continent. The onrushing deluge. The haggling for the last prices. The old dance of despair on the volcano. Peoples again slowly being driven into a slaughterhouse. The fleas would save themselves when the sheep were being sacrificed. As always. **** “Everyone knows that there will be war. What one does not yet know is when. Everyone expects a miracle.” Ravic smiled. “Never before have I seen so many politicians who believe in miracles as at present in France and England. And never so few as in Germany.” I loved to read about his life, work, playing chess with Russian. I loved everything except... Joan. Oh, Joan and this love story. She never felt like a human woman to me. Superficial, insufferable, obsessive, dependent, hysterical. I just never bought that she woke him up and made him want to live first time since the horrors in German camps. Not the way it was written. And I cannot ignore it because this love story was the main plot, book started with it and ended with it. So that's that, this was my top favourite novel of his when I read it first time in my teens, perhaps because of the melodrama, and now it's my least favourite on reread. But it is still Remarque and I can appreciate his sadness and feeling of doom.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    310514: this is a later addition: i think of books read this year, ones that might become rereads- become 'comfort reading'- and this is a prime candidate. why? i do not know, perhaps in clarity, in artlessness, i can concentrate on the characters. i tried one other book by remarque, very disappointed, and i have read 'all quiet on the western front'- but this was spoiled by having seen the old film. now i know the plot, but this is never important, this is bittersweet, romantic- yes it must be 310514: this is a later addition: i think of books read this year, ones that might become rereads- become 'comfort reading'- and this is a prime candidate. why? i do not know, perhaps in clarity, in artlessness, i can concentrate on the characters. i tried one other book by remarque, very disappointed, and i have read 'all quiet on the western front'- but this was spoiled by having seen the old film. now i know the plot, but this is never important, this is bittersweet, romantic- yes it must be the romantic aspect that appeals. i cannot claim it is great art, only that it is the people i want to read about... first review: now it has been a few days, a few books, since read and rated so the question is: why give this a five? why put it on the favourites shelf? thinking of it in comparison to llosa's feast of the goat, which is perhaps more literary in shape, in writing, but this is the one better recalled and more likely to be read again. this one has somewhat more average characters, ordinary sort of plot- and i think this is why. this book, set in 1939 France, written in 1945, does not fail to recall the movie Casablanca. indeed, i can see Bogart as the protagonist, and in Paris, where everyone is waiting in disbelief that another war will come... and character revealed simply, directly, in action, not introspection or close emotional reading, only gradually. i did not think to like this book, as it is long, it is not uniquely told or structured, not surprising characters or plot. i did not think i could be so attached to the man and woman, the world, the politics there but not too there. the young woman who knows she is not a good actor, but pretty enough to be a mistress, the good german doctor living and operating illegally, the petty conniving french doctor who depends on his skill to fix mistakes, the friendlier doctor who pays him better, who becomes something like a friend. the quiet satire of the hotel, the rotating pictures, the rotating refugees, the russian who uniquely does not claim aristocratic heritage... then, i like the occasional dash of mordant humor, i like the mundane, realistic, rather mature portrayal of romance. these are real people, good people, caught in a very bad time. would this work if set anywhere and -when else? made me also think of the stripped prose of Hemingway, how this is not his style but quieter, how this story is told without stylistic pyrotechnics, this story told directly, without excess of emotion or art... perhaps i would not have liked it so much if it was striving for effect. it is almost like reading two books, as the first half is heavy in dialog, thus easy to read, the second half more description, more thought... but in the end, this works. so maybe it is a bestseller of its time, maybe it is middlebrow, but the looming history is not overplayed, the story is ultimately down to a romance anyone can imagine, anyone could live, and an exactly right ending... and why did i even read this book, as it is not from a rec, not immediately interesting me, not much liking longish books...well actually, because the last book on philosopher merleau-ponty quoted it at a significant point, quoted it at length, so i decided to read its context... and while looking for that passage, i got sucked into this book. remains a five...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I put this book aside to read A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains but I was already getting tired of it and I'm not in the mood to finish it right now. The story is about a German refugee living in Paris during WWII but before the Occupation. He had been a surgeon in Germany but as he is living illegally without papers, he has to take whatever work a few French doctors give him work that they don't want to do such as trying to save a woman's life after a botched abortion. I found this all very I put this book aside to read A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains but I was already getting tired of it and I'm not in the mood to finish it right now. The story is about a German refugee living in Paris during WWII but before the Occupation. He had been a surgeon in Germany but as he is living illegally without papers, he has to take whatever work a few French doctors give him work that they don't want to do such as trying to save a woman's life after a botched abortion. I found this all very interesting, how he had to live a solitary life, on the fringe and under the radar. Then he falls in love and its just blah blah blah about what love really is and can we ever really be happy and who is going to leave the other one firt. I know Remarque is well regarded (All Quiet On The Western Front) and I feel a bit like "who am I to criticize" but these two characters just went round and round in circles and I lost interest.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    [...] we are sparks in an unknown wind. * Too loud? What was too loud? Only the quiet. The quiet in which one burst as though in a vacuum. * Forget. What a word, he thought. Full of horror, comfort, and apparitions! Who could live without forgetting? But who could forget enough? The ashes of memory that ground one’s heart. Only when one had nothing more to live for, was one free. * The gentle knocking penetrated the quiet on the outside—as though something wanted to come in, gray, cheerless, and forml [...] we are sparks in an unknown wind. * Too loud? What was too loud? Only the quiet. The quiet in which one burst as though in a vacuum. * Forget. What a word, he thought. Full of horror, comfort, and apparitions! Who could live without forgetting? But who could forget enough? The ashes of memory that ground one’s heart. Only when one had nothing more to live for, was one free. * The gentle knocking penetrated the quiet on the outside—as though something wanted to come in, gray, cheerless, and formless, something that was sadder than sadness—a remote anonymous memory, an endless wave drifting in toward them and trying to take back and bury what it had once washed up on an island and forgotten—a little bit of humankind and light and thought. * One cannot recall anything. And one cannot rectify anything. * We have our dreams because without them we could not bear the truth. * He felt the light ebb and flow of her breath. Invisibly and tenderly, it was vibrating toward him, without heaviness, ready and full of confidence—a strange life in a strange night. Suddenly he felt his blood. It mounted and mounted and it was more than that: life, a thousand times cursed and welcomed, often lost and rewon—an hour ago still a barren landscape, arid, full of rocks, and without consolation—and now gushing, gushing as if from many fountains, resounding and close to the mysterious moment in which one had not believed any more—one was the first man again, on the shore of the ocean and out of the waves emerged, white and radiant, question and answer in one, it mounted and mounted, and the storm began above his eyes. * Something had crept into him to which he had not paid any attention. Did it stir again? Did it move? How long ago was it? Did something call again out of oblivion, out of blue depths, did it again blow across him like the breath of meadows, full of peppermint, with a row of poplars against the horizon and the smell of woods in April? He did not want to possess anything. He did not want to be possessed. He was on the move. * I did not want it and I did not believe it, I did not think it would come again—and now here it is and all my experience is of no avail, all the knowledge makes it only the more burning—and what burns better in the fire of the emotions than dry cynicism and the stacked wood of the critical years?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lora Grigorova

    Arch of Triumph: http://readwithstyle.wordpress.com/20... A huge fan of Erich Maria Remarque as I am, surprisingly I hadn’t read two of his most famous novels – Arch of Triumph and All Quiet on the Western Front. After 5 novels (Shadows in Paradise, Three Comrades, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, The Night in Lisbon and The Black Obelisk), his voice sounds so familiar, that while reading I feel an overwhelming calmness. In a world where nothing is right, where humanity has continued on the path Arch of Triumph: http://readwithstyle.wordpress.com/20... A huge fan of Erich Maria Remarque as I am, surprisingly I hadn’t read two of his most famous novels – Arch of Triumph and All Quiet on the Western Front. After 5 novels (Shadows in Paradise, Three Comrades, A Time to Love and a Time to Die, The Night in Lisbon and The Black Obelisk), his voice sounds so familiar, that while reading I feel an overwhelming calmness. In a world where nothing is right, where humanity has continued on the path to self-destruction, and where hopelessness and despair become everyday sentiments, Remarque’s fiction is a reminder, a sort of wake-up call to beauty and love. Even on the verge of a second World War, people are still fighting the same problems – hatred, jealousy, envy – and people are still able to love – completely, selflessly, passionately. Erich Maria Remarque’s involvement in WWI largely determines the main theme of his fiction. The anti-war and anti-fascism sentiments of the author are present in all the novels I’ve read but it seems they are the most palpable and evident in the Arc of Triumph. On the eve of WWII Europe is in the atmosphere of spiritual stagnation and despair. A certain disillusionment hovers in the air; the exiles leave by habit, surviving every day as if it might be their last. One of these nameless, faceless souls is Ravic, a German doctor hiding in Paris. Fascism has taken everything from him – his home, his practice, his passport, his identity, his belief, and even his ability to love. Arch of Triumph is a story of the difficult path of spiritual, moral and physical preservation in a world of political persecution and uncertainty of what tomorrow might bring. Read more: http://readwithstyle.wordpress.com/20...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rick Slane

    Paris is always popular. The prose in this translation is often poetic. WWII is looming and almost everyone knows it. A great deal of alcohol is consumed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Signe

    I was blown away by this book. It is very old and still it touches on some things that are universal and beyond restraints such as time. It's set in the illegal refugee community in Paris during the second world war, and the protagonist is a not too sympathetic doctor, who practises illegally for pittances, drinks himself down more or less every night because of his insomnia, has casual relationships when he doesn't play chess with a Russian refugee friend of his, has countless political discuss I was blown away by this book. It is very old and still it touches on some things that are universal and beyond restraints such as time. It's set in the illegal refugee community in Paris during the second world war, and the protagonist is a not too sympathetic doctor, who practises illegally for pittances, drinks himself down more or less every night because of his insomnia, has casual relationships when he doesn't play chess with a Russian refugee friend of his, has countless political discussions and can't seem to stop thinking about all the really big issues of life. As a black cloud over the illegal community is the ever-present risk of getting found out and deported to Nazi Germany, torture and death. I don't know what happened to Remarque when he wrote this book, because it far, far better than anything else I have read by him.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    It's Paris months before WWII. The darkness of nights mask the arrival of refugees from Germany to hotel rooms and abandoned flats by Parisians reading the headlines warning of a second catastrophe in just twenty years. The suspense is palpable as Ravic's existence as an undocumented surgeon builds. This story like Remarque's "All Quite on the Western Front" tells the cautionary tale of the costs of war to the lives of human beings. As normality becomes unrecognizable, choices evaporate, what is It's Paris months before WWII. The darkness of nights mask the arrival of refugees from Germany to hotel rooms and abandoned flats by Parisians reading the headlines warning of a second catastrophe in just twenty years. The suspense is palpable as Ravic's existence as an undocumented surgeon builds. This story like Remarque's "All Quite on the Western Front" tells the cautionary tale of the costs of war to the lives of human beings. As normality becomes unrecognizable, choices evaporate, what is left of the spirit? Who will hold to their own values under maximum stress? I especially was drawn to the author's simple, direct phrasing of the story in contrast to the complexity of the circumstances of war. Highly Recommended

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Now for the Film with Anthony Hopkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAFAf... Bettie's Books Now for the Film with Anthony Hopkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAFAf... Bettie's Books

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    In a lifetime of books, it's not often we find one to bring us to our knees. I've read many great books over the years, some have made my heart jump, some stop, many led me on a rollercoaster ride, but none has caused as strong of an impression as this one has. I deliberately waited to write this review, because I wanted to be sure when I said the words that they were not the product of simple infatuation. They were not and I can now say it without a doubt: this is the book of my life! It goes b In a lifetime of books, it's not often we find one to bring us to our knees. I've read many great books over the years, some have made my heart jump, some stop, many led me on a rollercoaster ride, but none has caused as strong of an impression as this one has. I deliberately waited to write this review, because I wanted to be sure when I said the words that they were not the product of simple infatuation. They were not and I can now say it without a doubt: this is the book of my life! It goes beyond it being 'my favourite', it's so much more than that. This book forced me to stop half way through, so breathless was I with its pages. Some books you can't put down, but with this one I literally had to go for a walk, because I was overwhelmed. I've always liked simple writing and strong concepts, and boy does Remarque deliver. His writing is clean, no convoluted sentences or posh words, but he is a master at placing you on the scene, at slowly building up the groundwork for the moment of ecstasy you can feel is coming. When it arrives, it takes your breath away. And the characters, oh the characters. There's nothing shallow about them, any of them. Ravic, of course, is the highlight of the book. He's dark, cynical, dissilusioned, broken, and yet strong, alive and deeply sentimental. Remarque dove into my soul and with it built the man I would love to the end of time. People with light are pretty, but those with texture, deep, who've been bruised, are unforgettable. How could Ravic not be burnt into my memory forever?! Joan, I'll never understand her. But I'll never forget her either. Add to all this that it's a romance between wars, with all the darkness that entails. The atmosphere is heavy, you can feel it get thicker as the lines pass. And the end is... devastating. It made me cry (not the teary-eyes kind, but the one which makes your whole body shake) for three hours. If I think of those words... Of that specific quote... I feel I will still break down. And that final image... It'll be a long time before a book strangles me like this one has. Maybe I'll never find one like it. Let me say it again: this is the book of a lifetime!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Absolutely excellent! At first, after reading half way through I gave it 4 stars. Big mistake - it is definitely 5 plus. Remarque put human face on pre WW2 Europe and France in particular. The characters, their life stories and pre war spirit of that time builds up tension and anxiety in the reader. It is more than a love story. In fact, I think love story is not central point of the book. It is there to examplify one of the inevitable feelings and to support the main underlying theme of how imp Absolutely excellent! At first, after reading half way through I gave it 4 stars. Big mistake - it is definitely 5 plus. Remarque put human face on pre WW2 Europe and France in particular. The characters, their life stories and pre war spirit of that time builds up tension and anxiety in the reader. It is more than a love story. In fact, I think love story is not central point of the book. It is there to examplify one of the inevitable feelings and to support the main underlying theme of how important human life is despite seeming small and insignificant in the face of upcoming tragedy of war.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mariya

    Reading this novel was devastating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. It's now one of my treasured books. Reading this novel was devastating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. It's now one of my treasured books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Poison Ivy

    I'm just going to say that 'til now this is my favourite book of all times.. I'm just going to say that 'til now this is my favourite book of all times..

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nikos79

    One more excellent book by Remarque for the collection and for sure not the last. I 'll continue reading him. The German writer has such a warm prose full of kindness that make a reader love him, despite the fact that he is dealing with hard, cold and cruel times and topics in his books. In the "Arch of Triumph" he focuses on refuges' life from all Europe, in a pre-ww2 Paris. More specifically his main hero German doctor whose opposite ideology to uprising Reich troubles him, finds in Paris a te One more excellent book by Remarque for the collection and for sure not the last. I 'll continue reading him. The German writer has such a warm prose full of kindness that make a reader love him, despite the fact that he is dealing with hard, cold and cruel times and topics in his books. In the "Arch of Triumph" he focuses on refuges' life from all Europe, in a pre-ww2 Paris. More specifically his main hero German doctor whose opposite ideology to uprising Reich troubles him, finds in Paris a temporary (or not?) oasis but without passport and official papers has to live with different names and work illegally although he is an expert in what he is doing, a great surgeon. In the same situation live more or less a big cast of characters of the book, one of them a young Italo/Romanian singer and wannabe actress. Ravik and Joanna meet under those strange times and start a unique relationship which in the beginning is not easy to define if it can be love or an affair but certainly is something beautiful which makes them both feel live and human. The same time clouds of war are gathered more and more over France and the worst nightmare of doctor's life in Germany seems to show up when he was sure that he had escaped from his demons. All these in a depressing but the same time unexpectedly for the times lively Paris where people live like there is no tomorrow. One of the best 4 star books of the year, shines in its simplicity.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Olesya Razuvayevskaya

    This novel has it all, all the attributes one can expect from Remarque's novels: war, cynical romantic with strong caring tendencies as a protagonist, unconditional friendship, and, of course, a young woman that should either be mortally ill (suffer from cancer, tuberculosis, severe form of schizophrenia), or be killed. One way or the other, she must die, little suspense here. But every single time, it is somehow fresh and catchy, not sure how he does it! This novel has it all, all the attributes one can expect from Remarque's novels: war, cynical romantic with strong caring tendencies as a protagonist, unconditional friendship, and, of course, a young woman that should either be mortally ill (suffer from cancer, tuberculosis, severe form of schizophrenia), or be killed. One way or the other, she must die, little suspense here. But every single time, it is somehow fresh and catchy, not sure how he does it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Missy J

    3.5* I really enjoyed Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen nichts Neues and wanted to read another of his works. The first half of "Arc de Triomphe" was very well written, but somehow in the second half of the book, the meandering nature of the love story lessened my enjoyment. "Arc de Triomphe" is about a German doctor who goes by the name of Ravic. He escaped from a German concentration camp and is now living in Paris, working illegally (he operates on behalf of incompetent French doctors). He hate 3.5* I really enjoyed Erich Maria Remarque's Im Westen nichts Neues and wanted to read another of his works. The first half of "Arc de Triomphe" was very well written, but somehow in the second half of the book, the meandering nature of the love story lessened my enjoyment. "Arc de Triomphe" is about a German doctor who goes by the name of Ravic. He escaped from a German concentration camp and is now living in Paris, working illegally (he operates on behalf of incompetent French doctors). He hates fascism and is feeling hopeless about the future. This story is set in late 1938 Paris, right before the start of the second World War. On the one hand, there's a love story. Ravic meets Joan, whose husband just passed away. She's a Romanian-Italian actress who falls desperately in love with Ravic. He is a charming man, who has his way with words, but simultaneously he is haunted by his homeland and the death of his former lover in the concentration camp. I got the impression that on the outside, Ravic put up a cheerful front, getting along with neighbors, patients, friends, waiters, receptionists and the whores of Paris, but deep inside he was actually losing hope in mankind. Ravic drinks a lot! Most of the book is about the drinks he has and the cafes and restaurants he frequents. On the other hand, the reader is a witness to what Paris was like just before the war. Many people are in denial that it will ever reach Paris, even though emigres continue to flood the city, German soldiers come to spy and party, and companies continue to deal with Nazi Germany, delighting in the prospects of war which means more business and money. Finally, there's also a little crime and mystery aspect to the story. We are never really told what Ravic experienced in Germany, but he is clearly traumatized. There's a face of a Nazi soldier Haake which he starts seeing around in Paris. The relationship with Joan becomes complicated and Ravic needs to confront his deepest fears. I enjoyed Ravic's interactions with his patients and other secondary characters. Unfortunately, Joan was a difficult character for me to understand. Her fights with Ravic were often incomprehensible and their habit of drinking alcohol didn't help the relationship. The storyline involving Haake kind of fell flat. Nothing huge ever happened or was revealed. Remarque's writing is superb, but "Arc de Triomphe" wasn't as amazing as Im Westen nichts Neues. "Billig", sagte Ravic. "Alles, was man mit Geld abmachen kann, ist billig." ------------------- "Hast du schon mal bemerkt, wie wir im Zeitalter der Falschmünzer leben?" "Nein. Ich dachte, wir leben im Zeitalter der Konserven." "Konserven? Wieso?" Ravic zeigte auf die Zeitungen. "Wir brauchen nicht mehr zu denken. Alles ist vorgedacht, vorgekauft, vorgeführt. Konserven. Nur aufzumachen. Dreimal am Tage ins Haus geliefert. Nichts mehr selbst zu ziehen, wachsen zu lassen, auf dem Feuer der Fragen, des Zweifels und der Sehnsucht zu kochen. Konserven." Er grinste. "Wir leben nicht leicht, Boris. Nur billig." "Wir leben als Falschmünzer." Morosow hob die Zeitungen hoch. "Sieh dir das an. Ihre Waffenfabriken bauen sie, weil sie Frieden wollen; ihre Konzentrationslager, weil sie die Wahrheit lieben; Gerechtigkeit ist der Deckmantel für jede Parteiraserei; politische Gangster sind Erlöser, und Freiheit ist das grosse Wort für alle Gier nach Macht. Falsches Geld! Falsches geistiges Geld! Die Lüge der Propaganda. Küchenmacchiavellismus. Der Idealismus in den Händen der Unterwelt. Wenn sie noch wenigstens ehrlich wären..." Er knüllte die Blätter zusammen und warf sie fort.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This is a very sad book about a terrible time in the life of Erich Maria Remarque. His brilliant anti-war book All Quiet on the Western Front won him world-wide acclaim and the undying enmity of Hitler who considered him to be a defeatist. In 1933 Remarque's works were banned and publicly burned. Remarque fled Germany and his experiences in exile provided the inspiration for much of this book. The worst came in 1943 when the Nazis beheaded his sister. Although most of Remarque's exile was passed This is a very sad book about a terrible time in the life of Erich Maria Remarque. His brilliant anti-war book All Quiet on the Western Front won him world-wide acclaim and the undying enmity of Hitler who considered him to be a defeatist. In 1933 Remarque's works were banned and publicly burned. Remarque fled Germany and his experiences in exile provided the inspiration for much of this book. The worst came in 1943 when the Nazis beheaded his sister. Although most of Remarque's exile was passed in Switzerland, he chose Paris for his setting for this novel which deals with the feeling of overwhelming despair of a person who knows that his life is being targeted by the regime of his own country the and who has nothing left in life to hope for. This book is singularly bleak and devoid of hope. North Americans obviously empathized with Remarque who paid a very dear price for his international celebrity. Arc de triomphe was a bestseller in North America as well as being a Book of the Month Club selection which is how it wound up first in my parents house and then in my hands. This book is a wonderful anti-dote to anyone foolish enough to be taken in by Casablanca, Hollywood's appalling travesty which presents life on the run from Hitler as being a glamorous experience.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vusal

    Erich Maria Remarque is one of the greatest novelists i have ever read. This is third book of Erich Maria Remarque i read. I am sure i will read it again....

  26. 5 out of 5

    Betka Hajná

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is not gonna be my favourite Remarque's book. Maybe I have read too many books from him and I still expect something new. But his books are almost always the same. Lonely man running from his country meet a woman. Nevertheless, he is still my favourite writer, as he writes so believable and in every book I find dozen of post-worth quotes (and this one was no except). This book is a paradox of death. Some people are trying to survive at all costs. Three days are tortured by pain, which e This book is not gonna be my favourite Remarque's book. Maybe I have read too many books from him and I still expect something new. But his books are almost always the same. Lonely man running from his country meet a woman. Nevertheless, he is still my favourite writer, as he writes so believable and in every book I find dozen of post-worth quotes (and this one was no except). This book is a paradox of death. Some people are trying to survive at all costs. Three days are tortured by pain, which even morphine is not helping and then there is a man who willingly kill himself. "When a man dies, he becomes important." Ravic was saving lifes of many people, but then he killed German general by hands as a revenge to Camp times. If the General needed surgery, would he do it? Where is the barrier between duty and hate?

  27. 4 out of 5

    P

    I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Ralph Cosham, obtained through Hoopla, and it was fantastic. I'm pretty sure it would not have come nearly this close to keeping my interest had it not been for the inimitable style of Cosham, especially since this deals with the dissolute lives led by so many people from outside France living illegally in Paris just prior to the outbreak of WWII in 1939 - a time in history that was by its nature was at best grim and foreboding. But the narration i I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Ralph Cosham, obtained through Hoopla, and it was fantastic. I'm pretty sure it would not have come nearly this close to keeping my interest had it not been for the inimitable style of Cosham, especially since this deals with the dissolute lives led by so many people from outside France living illegally in Paris just prior to the outbreak of WWII in 1939 - a time in history that was by its nature was at best grim and foreboding. But the narration is superb and Cosham breathes life into the characters, particularly the main protagonist, a doctor forced to operate (pun intended) in the shadows while he seeks and finds his raisons de etre' in a nearly hopeless situation. And the author Remarque's ability to describe the extent to which humans are capable of finding ways to cope during the worst of conditions was remarkable. But again, special kudos to the narrator. He moved it to five stars. An aside: Lately I've found Hoopla to be an outstanding source for free audiobooks (other sources are around too, with varying accessibility), and I'm finding with a good pair of earphones I can gain exposure to many more books than I could if I just rely on allocating time to be still somewhere and read a book. For example, I take my dog for two half-hour walks a day, and find listening to books greatly enhances the time spent doing this (and the dog doesn't mind, either). Also, even while I'm just fiddling around the house, I'm constantly being enthralled by the 'magic' of this medium. For a long time, like many people I was averse to technology as a medium for literature, but no more. It works for me, beautifully.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nikola Jankovic

    Set in 1938-39, with war fast approaching, novel follows excellent German surgeon Ravic, a refugee from Nazi regime, who is living in Paris illegally and without documents. Beyond surviving, working for two Parisian below average doctors and not getting caught, Ravic has one more wish - to get revenge on Gestapo officer which tortured him, his girlfriend and friends at his time in Berlin. I loved Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. It was one of the best books I read in past few years. In Set in 1938-39, with war fast approaching, novel follows excellent German surgeon Ravic, a refugee from Nazi regime, who is living in Paris illegally and without documents. Beyond surviving, working for two Parisian below average doctors and not getting caught, Ravic has one more wish - to get revenge on Gestapo officer which tortured him, his girlfriend and friends at his time in Berlin. I loved Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. It was one of the best books I read in past few years. In it, he succedeed in creating an atmosphere like no other war book. The atmosphere of pointlesness of war, of lost generation and lost youth. Despite Arch of Triumph is not on the same level as his classic, it is beautifully written (I like literary fiction, but sometimes he goes over the top with his lyrical sentences) and creates romantic, but slow atmosphere of main character's depression, total inevitability of the war and normality of everyday life in 30s Paris. Makes you go out and order Cognac or Calvados.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maria Marinas

    EMR manages, once again, to deliver a superb, claustrophobic account of the subject. In this case, the year before the outbreak of WW2. An in-depth study of life in Paris at the time, focussing on the diversity of emigrants of the time and the diverse outcome in their lives. Coming from different backgrounds and going to different futures, they are all linked by the present situation. The main character is complete, deep and powerful. With a good dosage of black humour, I particularly enjoyed th EMR manages, once again, to deliver a superb, claustrophobic account of the subject. In this case, the year before the outbreak of WW2. An in-depth study of life in Paris at the time, focussing on the diversity of emigrants of the time and the diverse outcome in their lives. Coming from different backgrounds and going to different futures, they are all linked by the present situation. The main character is complete, deep and powerful. With a good dosage of black humour, I particularly enjoyed the stories immigrants of the hotel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aurora Shele

    Probably too emotional to make a good review, but this book is just Oh My God! Too bittersweet, too great. I love Remarque and I agree with people who says this book is the highlight of his career as a writer. The description of Paris is amazing as is his description of love. The translation of the book in Albanian is also great. One of my all time favorite books!

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