The Black Obelisk

Novel by Erich Maria Remarque


The Black Obelisk is a novel written in 1956 by the German author Erich Maria Remarque. This novel paints a portrait of Germany in the early 1920s, a period marked by hyperinflation and rising nationalism.
Ludwig, the protagonist, is in his mid twenties; just like most of his friends, he is a World War I veteran. Although aspiring to be a poet, he works for a friend, Georg, managing the office of a small tombstone company. He tries to earn some extra money as a private tutor to a son of a bookstore owner, and by playing the organ at the chapel of a local insane asylum.
Thanks to this diversity of activities, Ludwig interacts with a wide cross-section of the German population of his town and the surrounding villages and we are allowed to witness those interactions. We see, for example, businessmen – some trying to stick to the old principles and going bankrupt, others speculating on stocks, exploiting the system and becoming rich in morally ambiguous ways.

First Published


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