Back to the Front

Was it some clear-eyed Chatroulette idler who first said, “We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men; we are crude and sorrowful and superficial — I believe we are lost”? No, it was a soldier in Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the definitive novel of World War I. A year after the book’s 1929 publication, the movie version set its own high standard, with a couple of Oscars and considerable critical and commercial success. Remarque, who was wounded five times as a soldier in that war, traded his German citizenship — Hitler took it from him — for a life of pacifist writing, art buying (he collected works by van Gogh and Degas, among others) and star squiring (before marrying second wife Paulette Goddard, he modeled a character on ex-girlfriend Marlene Dietrich). Trench warfare, the Lost Generation, old Hollywood and art intersect at 6 p.m. with a book discussion and film screening of All Quiet. It’s in conjunction with the Spencer Museum of Art’s fascinating and comprehensive exhibit Machine in a Void: World War I & the Graphic Arts. To register for the free event at the Lawrence Public Library (707 Vermont), call 785-843-3833 or e-mail

Thu., March 25, 6 p.m., 2010