Three Comrades (novel)

Last updated
Three Comrades
ThreeComrades.jpg
First US edition
Author Erich Maria Remarque
Original titleDrei Kameraden
Translator A. W. Wheen
Cover artistPaul Wenck
Language German
Genre War novel
Publisher Little, Brown and Company (US)
Hutchinson (UK)
Publication date
December 1936
(Dutch transl.)
Published in English
1937

Three Comrades (German : Drei Kameraden) is a novel first published in 1936 by the German author Erich Maria Remarque. It is written in first person by the main character Robert Lohkamp, whose somewhat disillusioned outlook on life is due to his horrifying experiences in the trenches of the First World War's French-German front. He shares these experiences with Otto Köster and Gottfried Lenz, his two comrades with whom he runs an auto-repair shop in what may be late-1920s Berlin. Remarque wrote the novel in exile and it was first published in Dutch translation as Drei kameraden, with English translation following soon in Good Housekeeping from January to March 1937 and in the book form in the same year. The first German language edition was published in 1938 by exile publisher Querido in Amsterdam, but the novel was published in Germany only in 1951. [1]

Contents

Plot

The city, which never is referred to by name (however, it is likely Berlin), is crowded by a growing number of jobless and marked by increasing violence between left and right. The novel starts in the seedy milieu of bars where prostitutes mingle with the hopeless flotsam that the war left behind. While Robert and his friends manage to make a living dealing cars and driving an old taxi, economic survival in the city is getting harder by the day. It is in this setting that Robert meets Patrice Hollmann, a mysterious, beautiful, young woman with an upper-middle-class background. Their love affair intensifies as he introduces her to his life of bars and races and Robert's nihilistic attitude slowly begins to change as he realizes how much he needs Pat.

The story takes an abrupt turn as Pat suffers a near-fatal lung hemorrhage during a summer holiday at the sea. Upon their return, Robert and Pat move in with each other, but she is scheduled to leave for a Swiss mountain sanatorium come winter. It is this temporal limitation of their happiness which makes their remaining time together so precious.

After Pat has left for Switzerland, the political situation in the city becomes heated, and Lenz, one of the comrades, is killed by a militant, not mentioned in the book by the actual name but supposed to be a Nazi. On top of this, Otto and Robert face bankruptcy and have to sell their workshop. In the midst of this misfortune, a telegram arrives informing them of Pat's worsening state of health. The two remaining comrades don't hesitate and drive the thousand kilometers to the sanatorium in the Alps to see her.

Reunited, Robert and an increasingly moribund Pat celebrate their remaining weeks before her inevitable death amid the snow-covered summits of Switzerland. It is in the last part of the book that this love story finds closure and leaves the main character, a nihilist who has found love, forever changed.

Film, TV, and theatrical adaptations

The novel has a similar plot as Three Comrades , a 1938 film starring Franchot Tone, Robert Taylor, Robert Young and Margaret Sullavan. Hayao Miyazaki's last film, The Wind Rises , also follows a strikingly similar plot, although set in Japan in the same time period.

Flowers from the Victors (1999), directed by Aleksander Surin, also was based on the novel but set in Russia in the 1990s.

Related Research Articles

<i>All Quiet on the Western Front</i> Novel by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.

Robert Musil

Robert Musil was an Austrian philosophical writer. His unfinished novel, The Man Without Qualities, is generally considered to be one of the most important and influential modernist novels.

Thomas Mann German novelist and Nobel Prize laureate

Paul Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized versions of German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Arthur Schopenhauer.

Erich Maria Remarque German novelist

Erich Maria Remarque was a German novelist. His landmark novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1928), about the German military experience of World War I, was an international best-seller which created a new literary genre, and was subsequently adapted into a film of the same name in 1930.

Erich Kästner German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist

Emil Erich Kästner was a German author, poet, screenwriter and satirist, known primarily for his humorous, socially astute poems and for children's books including Emil and the Detectives. He received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1960 for his autobiography Als ich ein kleiner Junge war. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.

<i>Three Comrades</i> (1938 film) 1938 film by Frank Borzage

Three Comrades is a 1938 drama film directed by Frank Borzage and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz for MGM. The screenplay is by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edward E. Paramore Jr., and was adapted from the novel Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque. It tells the story of the friendship of three young German soldiers following World War I, during the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism.

Klaus Mann

Klaus Heinrich Thomas Mann was a German-born American writer and dissident. He was the son of Thomas Mann and brother of Erika Mann, with whom he maintained a lifelong close relationship, and Golo Mann. He is well known for his 1936 novel, Mephisto.

Alfred Döblin German novelist, essayist, and doctor

Bruno Alfred Döblin was a German novelist, essayist, and doctor, best known for his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929). A prolific writer whose œuvre spans more than half a century and a wide variety of literary movements and styles, Döblin is one of the most important figures of German literary modernism. His complete works comprise over a dozen novels ranging in genre from historical novels to science fiction to novels about the modern metropolis; several dramas, radio plays, and screenplays; a true crime story; a travel account; two book-length philosophical treatises; scores of essays on politics, religion, art, and society; and numerous letters—his complete works, republished by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag and Fischer Verlag, span more than thirty volumes. His first published novel, Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lung, appeared in 1915 and his final novel, Hamlet oder Die lange Nacht nimmt ein Ende was published in 1956, one year before his death.

Carl Zuckmayer German writer and playwright (1896–1977)

Carl Zuckmayer was a German writer and playwright. His older brother was the pedagogue, composer, conductor, and pianist Eduard Zuckmayer.

<i>The Night in Lisbon</i>

The Night in Lisbon is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque published in 1962. It revolves around the plight of two German refugees in the opening months of World War II. One of the refugees relates their story during the course of a single night in Lisbon in 1942. The story he recounts is mainly a romantic one, and also contains a lot of action with arrests, escapes and near-misses. The novel is realistic, Remarque was himself a German refugee, and provides insight into refugee life in Europe during the early days of the war. The book completed what was known as Remarque's "emigre trilogy" along with Flotsam and Arch of Triumph. It was Remarque's last completed work.

<i>Arch of Triumph</i> (novel)

Arch of Triumph is a 1945 novel by Erich Maria Remarque about stateless refugees in Paris before World War II. Written during his exile in the United States (1939–1948), it was his second worldwide bestseller after All Quiet on the Western Front. It was made into a feature film in 1948 and remade as a television film in 1984.

Walter von Molo Austrian writer (1880-1958)

Walter Ritter/Reichsritter von Molo (14 June 1880, Šternberk, Moravia, Austria-Hungary– 27 October 1958, Hechendorf, was an Austrian writer in the German language.

Monte Verità is a hill in Ascona, which has served as the site of many different Utopian and cultural events and communities since the beginning of the twentieth century, having started out as a popular destination for Wandervogel hikers during the Lebensreform period.

Arthur Wheen

Arthur Wesley Wheen, was an Australian soldier, translator and museum librarian. He is best known for translating the work of Erich Maria Remarque into English, beginning with the classic war novel All Quiet on the Western Front in 1929.

<i>Heaven Has No Favorites</i> Book by Erich Maria Remarque

Heaven Has No Favorites is a novel by the German writer Erich Maria Remarque. This novel is a story about passion and love, set in 1948 with a background of automobile racing. Inspired by racing driver Alfonso de Portago.

<i>A Time to Love and a Time to Die</i> 1958 film

A Time to Love and a Time to Die is a 1958 Eastmancolor CinemaScope drama war film directed by Douglas Sirk and starring John Gavin and Liselotte Pulver. It is based on the book by German author Erich Maria Remarque, set on the Eastern Front and in Nazi Germany. With a nod to Remarque's better-known All Quiet on the Western Front, this film has been referred to as All Quiet on the Eastern Front.

German Exilliteratur is the name for a category of literary works in the German language written by authors of anti-Nazi attitude, who fled from Nazi Germany and its occupied territories between 1933 and 1945. These dissident authors, many of whom were of Jewish origin and/or with communist sympathies, fled abroad in 1933 after the Nazi Party came to power in Germany and after Nazi Germany annexed Austria by the Anschluss in 1938, abolished the freedom of press and started to prosecute the authors whose books were banned.

Events in the year 1931 in Germany.

Ludwig Rubiner was a German poet, literary critic and essayist, generally seen as a representative of the expressionist movement that originated in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. His most important works include a manifesto entitled, "Der Dichter greift in die Politik" and a stage-drama, "Die Gewaltlosen", which he dedicated to "dem Kameraden, meiner Frau Frida". His "Kriminalsonetten" have even led to his being seen by some as a prophet of Dadaism.

Ludwig Levy-Lenz was a German medicine doctor and sexual reformator.

References

  1. Hans Wagener, James N. Hardin -Erich Maria Remarque - 1991 - Page 45 Three Comrades (Drei Kameraden) It was not until December 1936 that Remarque was able to complete his next novel, Three Comrades, a project that he had begun in 1932 and which underwent a number of revisions before it was ..