erich-maria-remarque

I saw her before me, beautiful, young, expectant, a butterfly that by a happy accident had flown into my down-at-heels, shabby room, into my insignificant, meaningless life, with me and yet not with me—a breath merely, and it might rise and fly away again… . Blame me, condemn me; I couldn’t, I simply could not say No, […] We were standing by the window, the mist pressed and broke in waves against the panes—and I felt that behind it lurked again the secret, the hidden, the past things, the damp days of horror, the desolation, the filth, the shreds of a waste life, the perplexity, the misguided frittering away of strength in an aimless existence; but here, before me in the shadow, disconcertingly near, the quiet breathing, the unseizable present—warmth, clear living—I must hold it, I must win it.

Erich Maria Remarque, from Three Comrades, transl. by A. W. Wheen (Popular Library, 1958)

[…] but now it almost seemed as if it had been I myself, so curiously intermixed were the memory and the desire to lend some glamour to the petty and obscure nothingness of my life, in order not to lose this incredibly lovely face, this sudden hope, this blessed flowering, for which alone I was much too little. Later I could explain it all, later when I should be more, when everything was more secure—later, but not now.

Erich Maria Remarque, from Three Comrades, transl. by A. W. Wheen (Popular Library, 1958)

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.
—  Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front