on / off books

non-serious book talk

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Arch of Triumph, deja vu

I've read 97 pages of Remarque's Arch of Triumph - first edition, D. Appleton-Century, 1945, translated by Denver Lindley and Walter Sorell.

The setting, the characters, the narration, the dialogues - everything must be familiar to a Remarque reader. The novels is the story of Ravic, first world war veteran, famous German surgeon now (late 1930s) living in Paris without papers and in fear, and he very much resembles the lead characters of The Night in Lisbon. There's even Katczinsky, the cobbler, who first appeared in All Quiet on the Western Front. And you can find Remarque's own brand of humour here.

The first chapter introduces Joan Madou, a singer whom Ravic gets acquainted to in spite of himself. She needs his company, but he resists her Remarqu'esque charm. She finds her again at a restaurant where she sings, and he's attracted. This is where I've stopped.

I wonder if this novel is for his fans only. The first 50 pages were a bit dull and slow (may be I've read too much popular fiction in the recent times that I want my books to be fast-paced). The narrator and the characters keep making statements like "Man is great in his intentions, but weak in carrying them out. Therein lie our misery and our charm." (Morosow, page 87) Almost every character says things like that.


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