Erich Maria Remarque "Spark of Life": plot and reviews

The novel “Sparks of Life”, written by the German writer Erich Maria Remarque, is a strong, emotional work that can penetrate deeply and permanently into the soul. The book leaves no one indifferent. The novel takes place in a German concentration camp during the Second World War. Remark himself was not in the fascist dungeons. However, he managed with incredible accuracy to recreate the terrible atmosphere of those places.

erich maria remarque spark of life

A bit about the author

Remarque Erich Maria was born as Erich Paul. He was born at the end of the 19th century, on June 22, 1898. The family of the future famous writer had four more children. Parents are poor entrepreneurs Peter and Maria Remarque. After his mother died of a serious illness, impressed by her death, the author replaced the middle name Paul with Maria.

Erich began his training in 1904, at a church school, then continued it in a seminary. In 1916, during the First World War he was drafted into the army. He served on the western front. In the middle of the summer of 1917 he was injured and was treated at the hospital until the end of the war. His memoirs subsequently formed the basis of the world famous work - “On the Western Front without Change”.

The beginning of creative activity, problems with the Nazis

In the twenties of the XX century, Erich finally devoted himself to literary, writing activities. Remarque, as a convinced pacifist, began to publish stories and novels on anti-war themes. His works irritated the nascent new Nazi authority in Germany.

Claims to the writer by the authorities led to the fact that in 1932 Remarque left Germany, settling in Switzerland. In his native country, the company against him was gaining momentum. So, in 1933 his works were banned, and books expected the fate of being burned in the squares.

Erich Maria Remarque

Acquaintance with Marlene Dietrich, family tragedy, beloved woman

While living in Switzerland, Erich Remarck made friendship with actress Marlene Dietrich. Together with her in 1940 he left for the USA, where after 7 years he became a citizen of this country.

During the war, his younger sister Elfrid Scholz, who remained Germany, was arrested by the Nazis. She was accused of anti-Hitler, anti-war statements. The court found her guilty and sentenced to death. In mid-December 1943, Elfrid was cut off his head.

For some time, Remarque did not know about the fate of his younger sister, since he had left Germany for a long time and kept in touch with his family only occasionally.

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After the war ended, in May 1945, Erich returned to Europe. However, the ups and downs of life greatly affected his lifestyle. He fell into a deep depression, out of which he was helped exclusively by alcohol.

To return to life and society, Remarque was helped by his new lover and future wife - Paulette Goddard. He began to write again. However, she finally managed to defeat his passion for drinking. With Polett, Erich lived together until the end of his life. He died on September 25, 1970 in Switzerland.

Writing history

Remarque Erich Maria began work on the sparkle of life novel in the spring of 1949. He worked on it for a long time, having finished writing it only in 1951.

Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “The Spark of Life” was published for the first time in the United States, in early 1952. The plot of the work by the author is gleaned from real events. The novel is dedicated to the younger sister executed by the German authorities.

Working on this work, Erich studied in great detail materials related to the atrocities of the Nazis in concentration camps. The main sources for the writer were conversations with eyewitnesses, prisoners, as well as official data taken from the offices of the death camps.

erich maria remarque spark of life book description

Studying the materials that served as the basis for The Spark of Life, Erich Maria Remarque was shocked. They led him to a deep depression. Therefore, work on the novel went on for a long time, as much as 3 years.

All the characters, as well as the place referred to in the novel “Spark of Life,” Erich Maria Remarque came up with. The concentration camp and the city of Mellern located near it never existed. But the basis of the novel was documentary data on the conditions of detention of prisoners and crimes committed in the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald.

Characters characters

Revealing the summary of The Sparks of Life by Erich Maria Remarque, it should immediately be emphasized that the storyline unfolds against the backdrop of the terrible conditions of the existence of people in a concentration camp. Prisoners are representatives of different nationalities and carriers of different fates, and they behave differently.

Some of the prisoners who could not stand the bullying themselves become like the Nazis, adopting their methods. Others, being in the same terrible conditions, subjected to atrocities and humiliations by the overseers, were able to maintain their human qualities, not to drop their dignity.

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In The Spark of Life, Erich Maria Remarque showed many people, their fates, which he revealed against the background of gloomy paintings of the fascist concentration camp. So, the fate of a young Jewish girl who was raped by the Nazis is very vividly conveyed.

The image of an eleven-year-old child, whose entire conscious life passed in a concentration camp, does not leave indifferent the reader. He was able to survive only because he learned to eat carrion.

One of the main characters of the novel “Spark of Life” by Erich Maria Remarque has only a number - “509”. He also spent a long time in a concentration camp, but was imbued with a belief in his release, which helped him survive the torture and hunger. The desire to survive and the presence of a strong will allowed him to maintain faith in freedom. 509th tries to convey his hope to other prisoners.

In the description of the book “The Spark of Life” by Erich Maria Remarque, attention should be paid to Bruno Neubauer, commandant of the death camp. He meticulously and thoroughly performs his terrible work. This character enjoys the contemplation of humiliation and bullying to which prisoners are subjected. Moreover, he is a loving father and exemplary husband.

erich maria remarque spark of life summary

His goal is the pursuit of well-being, prosperity of the family. However, he does not pay attention to what paid for his cloudless family life. He is not a stupid person, and understands that the fall of the Nazis is inevitable. But he does not regret his crimes. He only cares about how to get away from retribution.

The finale of the novel

The approach of the advancing American troops, which begin to bomb the city located near the concentration camp, is regarded by prisoners as a portent of imminent freedom. They begin to look for the leader, who becomes the 509th. His courageous behavior before the Nazis made others believe in his strength and heroism. Under his leadership, the prisoners began to prepare an uprising. The created close-knit group began to search for money, stock up on food, and obtain weapons. They began to shelter people in their camp hut, saving them from reprisal. Gradually, they are captured by the goal - to escape from the camp alive at any cost.

But the approach of the advancing American troops leads to the fact that the protection of the camp tightens the conditions of detention of prisoners. They are deprived of food, they are intensely and sophisticatedly mocked. In order to hide the traces of their crimes, trying to kill as many people as possible, the SS men begin to burn barracks with the prisoners there. The prisoner at number 509 makes a fateful decision for himself - with arms in his hands, he makes an attempt to stop the brutal fascists. He dies, however, and kills the leader of the SS.

In the final part of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel “The Spark of Life”, American troops liberate the camp. Former prisoners are released and sent each in their own direction. At the end of the novel, the author shows how the former prisoners of the concentration camp live, how they settled down in civilian life.

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The fate of the novel

A novel published in the USA was a great success. Reviews on the "Sparks of Life" by Erich Remarque were positive. Critics took him as a strong, iconic work on the confrontation of evil and good. The processes that lead to how respectable people, peaceful inhabitants, become ruthless killers are shrillly revealed.

The novel was not published in the Soviet Union. The first time he saw the light in Russia only in 1992. The ban on the publication of this book was ideological reasons. In the novel, Remarque equalizes communism and fascism.

In Germany, the work was received coolly. Reviews of the book "The Spark of Life" in the German press were negative. For the most part, German society did not accept the novel.

reviews of the spark of life book

Remarque Erich Maria “Spark of Life”: reviews, opinions

According to contemporaries and researchers of the writer's work, in Spark of Life, Remark was one of the first to attempt to convey to the readers the truth about the horrors of war, as well as the inhuman suffering of people in Nazi camps. The author was brilliantly and piercingly able to show naked human souls.

People who read the book “The Spark of Life” by Erich Maria Remarque, reviews leave her mostly emotional, indicating that this work does not leave anyone indifferent. The content of the novel is terrible, and at the same time exciting, no doubt - this is a life-affirming work.

After the last page has been read, the majority of readers come to the conclusion that it is necessary to value the benefits that are available. Despite the fact that the plot of the book is terribly scary, it is optimistic. People who find themselves in pitch darkness can see a spark of hope and escape to the light.

In the novel “The Spark of Life,” Erich Maria Remarque points out a way to solve the problem. And he teaches how to preserve human qualities in inhuman conditions.


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