Black Obelisk by Erich Maria Remarque

The Black Obelisk

The Black Obelisk is a novel written by Erich Maria Remarque in 1956. The story is set in Germany during the early 1920s, a period marked by hyperinflation and rising nationalism after World War I.

The protagonist of the story is Ludwig, a young veteran from the war who works for a monument company, mostly selling stone markers to the loved ones of the recently-departed. With the historical inflation in his country only worsening by the hour, Ludwig tries to find meaning for his life amidst a turbulent and collapsing society.

The book explores themes such as the impact of economic situations on people’s mentality, the search for meaning in a war-torn world, and the lack of love between Man, God, Country, and fellow Man. The story is a series of related vignettes witnessed by Ludwig, focusing on the misfortunes of other people in the midst of the rampant inflation. The book also has a healthy dose of dark comedy to help balance things out.

What I Liked

I’m a big fan of anything that Remarque published. I think he had a keen insight for how massive global events affected regular people…and how to preserve our own humanity in the face of historical events.

What I Did Not Like

Not a whole lot – great book.

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