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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Erich Maria Remarque was born on June 22, 1898, in Osnabruck, Westphalia, Germany. His father, a bookbinder, was German, and his mother was French. Remarque attended public school in Osnabruck and was a good student. He entered the University of Munster but could not complete his studies; he had to leave when he was drafted into the Germany army at the young age of eighteen.
Remarque was wounded five times while he fought on the Western Front. When he was finally discharged from military duty, he worked at a variety of jobs. For a while he was a teacher and then a salesman; disillusioned with both endeavors, he became a travelling gypsy for a period of time. Finally deciding to settle down, he began his writing career. He first wrote advertising copy and articles for an automobile magazine. He then tried his hand at a novel, producing All Quiet on the Western Front out of his war experience. After being refused by one published, it finally appeared in 1928 and became an immediate popular success; it was eventually made into a motion picture and translated into twenty-five languages. It was also criticized, especially in Germany, for not painting a realistic enough picture of war.
After the success of All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque devoted himself to writing other novels, many of which were based on a war theme. The Road Back (1931) and Three Comrades (1937) tell of the confusion of post-war Germany and the hardships of veterans. Arch of Triumph (1946) is about a German doctor who fled to Paris to escape the Nazis. Spark of Life (1952) is about the suffering in a Nazi concentration camp. His other novels include Flotsam (1941), A Time of Love and a Time to Die (1954), The Black Obelisk (1957), Heaven Has No Favorites (1961), and Night in Lisbon (1964). None of the later novels became as popular as All Quiet on the Western Front.
Because of Nazi rule in Germany, Remarque moved to Switzerland, where he stayed from 1931 to 1939. From there, he often wrote critical articles about the Nazis. As a result, his books were publicly burned in Germany, and his citizenship was revoked in 1938. In 1939, Remarque moved to America and became a citizen in 1947. The author died in 1970.