|About the Book|
First published in German in 1928 as Jahrgang 1902, Ernst Glaesers autobiographical novel centers on the experiences of the narrator, E., and his friends. Born in 1902, E. and his generation come of age during the Great War, but they never knowMoreFirst published in German in 1928 as Jahrgang 1902, Ernst Glaesers autobiographical novel centers on the experiences of the narrator, E., and his friends. Born in 1902, E. and his generation come of age during the Great War, but they never know combat because the war ends before they can be drafted. Through their perspectives Glaeser provides glimpses into traumatic times on the German home front.Over the four years covered by the novel, E. witnesses the buildup and deployment of combat troops, the return of the wounded, deaths, hunger, and air raids. All around him, he sees what he comes to think of as the adults war, tragic events in which he never wishes to participate. His own actions follow a quest for sexual experience and, moreover, the understanding of life he believes will come from such experience. As E. simultaneously spurns the onset of adulthood and yearns for the physical pleasures that might accompany such a transition, his life repeatedly intersects with the war, moving him in and out of dangers and eventually taking his girlfriend Anna from him before they can consummate their relationship. Through the vibrantly detailed episodes that make up the work, Glaeser gives a street-level vantage point on the sufferings of the German civilian population and shows the high cost of war even for those with no direct involvement in its outcome.Deemed a damned good book by Ernest Hemingway, Glaesers work warrants reading today both for its value as a historical document and as a novel of antiwar sentiments from a German perspective. In the new introduction to this edition, Horst Kruse details the reception of the work against the historical backdrop of German novels of the era and the international rise of the antiwar genre in which the work participates.