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

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  19,659 ratings  ·  524 reviews
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
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 27th 1998 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1945)
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Vit Babenco
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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

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
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, ...more
Apr 23, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Nov 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
[...] 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
Lora Grigorova
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Arch of Triumph:

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
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.
Nov 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Cheryl Kennedy
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Laura, Wanda

Now for the Film with Anthony Hopkins:

Bettie's Books
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Rediscovering the books that I read when I was too young. Read in 2 nights. One of my favourite books definitely.
It was like I could almost feel how the author felt when he was writing it.
Everything is so complicated and yet brought to us so simply.
Must read.
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading this novel was devastating, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. It's now one of my treasured books. ...more
Poison Ivy
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm just going to say that 'til now this is my favourite book of all times.. ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Olesya Razuvayevskaya
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german
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! ...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has seen Casablanca needs to read this to get their head straightened out
Recommended to Czarny by: My parents got it as book of the month club members.
Shelves: german-lit
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
Vusal Rasulzade
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
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....
Betka Hajná
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
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 ...more
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
Maria Marinas
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Aurora Shele
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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!
Leah Bayer
I was trying to remember a book I read as a teen and the only details I could think of were "they were in Paris and they drank a lot of cognac." My mom goes "oh yeah The Arch Of Triumph!" so now I can finally add it to my Goodreads after years of wondering. ...more
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Erich Maria Remarque (pen name of Erich Paul Remark) is one of the best known and most widely read authors of German literature in the twentieth century.

Remarque's biography is essentially marked and his writing fundamentally influenced by German history of the twentieth century: Childhood and youth in imperial Osnabrück, World War I, the Weimar Republic, and most of all his exile in Switzerland

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