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Arch of Triumph

Erich Maria Remarque

  Arch of Triumph is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  2014 Random House Trade Paperbacks Edition

  Copyright © 1945 by Erich Maria Remarque

  Copyright renewed 1972 by Paulette Goddard Remarque

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Random House Trade Paperbacks, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

  RANDOM HOUSE and the HOUSE colophon are trademarks of Random House LLC.

  This translation was originally published by

  D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., in 1945.

  ISBN 978-0-449-91245-4

  eBook ISBN 978-0-8129-8558-0

  Cover design: Tom Kluepfel

  Cover photograph: Shutterstock




  Title Page


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Other Books by This Author

  About the Author


  THE WOMAN VEERED toward Ravic. She walked quickly, but with a peculiar stagger. Ravic first noticed her when she was almost beside him. He saw a pale face, high cheekbones and wide-set eyes. The face was rigid and masklike; it looked hollowed out, and her eyes in the light from the street lamps had an expression of such glassy emptiness that they caught his attention.

  The woman passed so close she almost touched him. He reached out and seized her arm with one hand; the next moment she tottered and would have fallen, if he had not supported her.

  He held her arm tight. “Where are you going?” he asked after a moment.

  The woman stared at him. “Let me go!” she whispered.

  Ravic did not answer. He still held her arm tight.

  “Let me go!” The woman barely moved her lips.

  Ravic had the impression that she did not see him at all. She was looking through him, somewhere into the empty night. He was only something that had stopped her and toward which she spoke. “Let me go!”

  Ravic saw at once she was no whore. Neither was she drunk. He did not hold her arm so tight now. She could have freed herself easily, but it did not occur to her. Ravic waited awhile. “Where can you really want to go at night, alone at this time in Paris?” he quietly asked once more and released her arm.

  The woman remained silent. But she did not walk on. Once stopped, she seemed unable to move again.

  Ravic leaned against the railing of the bridge. He could feel the damp porous stone under his hands. “Perhaps down there?” He motioned with his head backward and down at the Seine, which moved restlessly toward the shadows of the Pont de l’Alma in a gray and gradually fading glimmer.

  The woman did not answer.

  “Too early,” Ravic said. “Too early and much too cold in November.”

  He took out a package of cigarettes and fumbled in his pockets for matches. He saw there were only two left in the little box and he bent down cautiously in order to shelter the flame with his hands against the soft breeze from the river.

  “Give me a cigarette, too,” the woman said in an almost toneless voice.

  Ravic straightened up and held the package toward her. “Algerian. Black tobacco of the Foreign Legion. Probably it’s too strong for you. I have nothing else with me.”

  The woman shook her head and took a cigarette. Ravic held the burning match for her. She smoked hastily, inhaling deeply. Ravic threw the match over the railing. It fell through the dark like a little shooting star and went out only when it reached the water.

  A taxi drove slowly across the bridge. The driver stopped. He looked toward them and waited for a moment, then he stepped on the accelerator and drove along the wet dark-gleaming Avenue George V.

  Ravic felt suddenly tired. He had been working all day and had not been able to sleep. And so he had gone out again to drink. But now, unexpectedly, in the wet coolness of the late night, tiredness fell over him like a sack.

  He looked at the woman. What had made him stop her? Something was wrong with her, that much was clear. But what did it matter to him? He had already seen plenty of women with whom something was wrong, particularly at night, particularly in Paris, and it made no difference to him now and all he wanted was a few hours’ sleep.

  “Go home,” he said. “What are you doing on the streets at this hour? You’ll only get into trouble.”

  He turned up the collar of his coat and was about to walk away. The woman looked at him as though she did not understand. “Home?” she repeated.

  Ravic shrugged his shoulders. “Home, back to your apartment, to your hotel, call it what you like, somewhere. You don’t want to be picked up by the police?”

  “To the hotel! My God!” the woman said.

  Ravic paused. Once more someone who does not know where to go, he thought. He could have foreseen it. It was always the same. At night they did not know where to go and the next morning they were gone before you were awake. Then they knew where to go. The old cheap desperation that came with the dark and left with it. He threw his cigarette away. As if he himself did not know it and know it to the point of weariness!

  “Come, let’s go somewhere and have a drink,” he said.

  It was the simplest solution. Afterwards he could pay and leave and she could decide what to do.

  The woman made an uncertain movement and stumbled. Ravic caught hold of her arm. “Tired?” he asked.

  “I don’t know. I guess so.”

  “Too tired to sleep?”

  She nodded.

  “That can happen. Come along, I’ll hold onto you.”

  They walked up the Avenue Marceau. Ravic felt the woman leaning on him. She did not lean as if she were tired—she leaned as if she were about to fall and had to support herself.

  They crossed the Avenue Pierre Ierde Serbie. Behind the intersection of the Rue de Chaillot the street opened up and, floating and dark in the distance, the mass of the Arc de Triomphe emerged out of the rainy sky.

  Ravic pointed to the narrow lighted entrance of a cellar drinking place. “In here—we’ll still be able to get something.”

  It was a bistro frequented by drivers. A few cabdrivers and two whores were sitting inside. The drivers were playing cards. The whores were drinking absinthe. With a quick glance they took stock of the woman. Then they turned indifferently away. The older one yawned audibly; the other began lackadaisically making up her face. In the background a busboy, with the face of a weary rat, sprinkled sawdust around and began to sweep the floor. Ravic and the woman sat down at a table near the entrance. It was more convenient; he could then leave more easily. He did not remove his coat. “What do you want to drink?” h
e asked.

  “I don’t know. Anything at all.”

  “Two calvados,” Ravic said to the waiter, who was in vest and rolled-up shirtsleeves. “And a package of Chesterfields.”

  “Haven’t any,” the waiter announced. “Only French.”

  “Well then, a pack of Laurens green.”

  “We don’t have green either. Only blue.”

  Ravic looked at the waiter’s arm, on which was tattooed a naked woman walking on clouds. The waiter, following his glance, clenched his fist and made his muscles jump. The woman on the clouds wiggled her belly lasciviously.

  “All right, blue,” Ravic said.

  The waiter grinned. “Maybe we still have one green left.” He shuffled off.

  Ravic’s eyes followed him. “Red slippers on his feet,” he said, “and a nautch girl on his arm! He must have served in the Turkish navy.”

  The woman put her hands on the table. She did it as if she never wanted to lift them again. Her hands had been well cared for but that meant nothing. Still they were not too well cared for. Ravic saw that the nail of the right middle finger was broken; it seemed to have been torn off without having been filed. In some places the polish was chipped.

  The waiter brought the glasses and a package of cigarettes.

  “Laurens green. Found one after all.”

  “I thought you would. Were you in the navy?”

  “No. Circus.”

  “Better still.” Ravic handed a glass to the woman. “Here, drink this. It’s the best thing at this hour. Or would you like coffee?”


  “Drink it all at once.”

  The woman nodded and emptied the glass. Ravic studied her. She had a colorless face, almost without expression. The mouth was full but pale, the contours appeared blurred. Only the hair was very beautiful—of a lustrous natural blond. She wore a Basque beret and under her raincoat a blue tailored suit. The suit had been made by a good tailor, but the green stone in the ring on her hand was much too big to be real.

  “Do you want another?” Ravic asked.

  She nodded.

  He beckoned the waiter. “Two more calvados. But bigger glasses.”

  “Bigger glasses? More in them, too?”


  “That would be two double calvados.”

  “You’ve guessed it.”

  Ravic decided to finish his drink quickly and leave. He was bored and very tired. Generally he was patient with such incidents; he had more than forty years of eventful living behind him. But he was only too well acquainted with situations like this. He had lived in Paris for a number of years and not been able to sleep much at night—then one saw a lot on the way.

  The waiter brought the drinks. Ravic took the penetrating and aromatic smelling apple brandy and placed it carefully in front of the woman. “Drink this too. It doesn’t help much, but it warms you up. And whatever’s the matter—don’t take it too hard. There’s nothing that remains serious for long.”

  The woman looked at him. She did not drink.

  “It’s true,” Ravic said. “Particularly at night. Night exaggerates.”

  The woman still stared at him. “You don’t have to comfort me,” she said.

  “All the better.”

  Ravic looked around for the waiter. He had had enough. He knew this type. Probably Russian, he thought. The minute they sit down somewhere, while they’re still wet, they become arrogant.

  “Are you Russian?” he asked.


  Ravic paid and rose to say goodbye. At the same moment the woman got up, too. She did it silently and naturally. Ravic looked at her uncertainly. All right, he thought then, I can do it just as well outside.

  It had begun to rain. Ravic stopped in front of the door. “Which way are you going?” He was determined to take the opposite direction.

  “I don’t know. Somewhere.”

  “But—where do you live?”

  The woman made a quick movement. “I can’t go there! No, no! I can’t do that! Not there!”

  Suddenly her eyes were full of a wild fear. She has quarreled, Ravic thought, has had some sort of row and has run away. By tomorrow noon she will have thought it over and will go back.

  “Don’t you know anyone to whom you could go? An acquaintance? You could call them up from the bistro.”

  “No. There’s nobody.”

  “But you must go somewhere. Haven’t you any money for a room?”

  “I have.”

  “Then go to a hotel. There are lots of them in the side-streets.”

  The woman did not answer.

  “You must go somewhere,” Ravic said impatiently. “You can’t stay in the streets in this rain.”

  The woman drew her raincoat tighter around her. “You are right,” she said as though she had suddenly come to a decision. “You are quite right. Thanks. Don’t trouble about me any more. I’ll find a place all right. Thank you.” With one hand she pulled the collar of her coat together. “Thank you for everything.” She glanced up at Ravic with an expression of misery, and tried unsuccessfully to smile. Then she walked away through the misty rain unhesitatingly and with soundless steps.

  Ravic stood still for a moment. “Damn it!” he grumbled, surprised and irresolute. He did not know how it happened or what it was, the hopeless smile, or the look, or the empty street or the night—he knew only that he could not let this woman go alone through the mist, this woman who suddenly looked like a lost child.

  He followed her. “Come with me,” he said gruffly. “We’ll find something for you.”

  They reached the Etoile. The square lay before them in a drizzling grayness, huge and unbounded. The mist was thicker now and one could no longer see the streets that branched off. There was only the broad square with the scattered dim moons of the street lamps and with the monumental stone arch which receded into the mist as though it would prop up the melancholy sky and protect beneath itself the faint lonely flame on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which looked like the last grave of mankind in the midst of night and loneliness.

  They walked across the square. Ravic walked fast. He was too tired to think. Beside him he heard the soft, pattering steps of the the woman following him silently, with head bent, hands hidden in the pockets of her coat, a small alien flame of life—and suddenly in the late loneliness of the square, strangely she seemed to belong to him for a moment although he did not know anything about her, or just for that reason. She was a stranger to him, as he felt a stranger everywhere—and, in an odd fashion, this seemed to bring her closer to him than many words and the grinding habit of time.

  Ravic lived in a small hotel in a side street off the Avenue Wagram behind the Place des Ternes. It was a rather dilapidated house with just one new touch: the sign above the entrance, bearing the inscription: Hôtel International.

  He rang the bell. “Is there a vacant room?” he asked the boy who opened the door.

  The boy stared at him sleepily. “The concierge is not here,” he mumbled finally.

  “I see that. I asked you if there was a vacant room.”

  The boy shrugged his shoulders helplessly. He saw that Ravic had a woman with him; but he could not understand why he wanted another room. According to his experience this was not why women were brought in. “Madame is asleep. She’d fire me if I woke her up,” he said. He scratched himself vigorously.

  “All right. Then we’ll have to see for ourselves.”

  Ravic tipped the boy, took his key, and walked upstairs, followed by the woman. Before he unlocked his door, he examined the door next to it. There were no shoes in front of it. He knocked twice. Nobody answered. He certainly tried the knob. The door was locked. “This room was empty yesterday,” he muttered. “We’ll try it from the other side. The landlady has probably locked it for fear the bedbugs will get away.”

  He unlocked his room. “Sit down for a minute.” He pointed to a red horsehair sofa. “I’ll be back right away.”

>   He opened a large window leading to a narrow iron balcony and climbed over the connecting trellis to the adjacent balcony, where he tried the door. It too was locked. He came back resignedly. “It’s no use. I can’t get you another room here.”

  The woman sat in the corner of the sofa. “May I sit here for a moment?”

  Ravic looked at her closely. Her face was crumpled with fatigue. She seemed hardly able to get up again. “You may stay here,” he said.

  “Just for a moment—”

  “You can sleep here. That’s the easiest thing.”

  The woman did not seem to hear him. Slowly, almost automatically she moved her head. “You should have left me on the street. Now—I think I won’t be able—”

  “I don’t think so either. You may stay here and sleep. That’s the best thing for you to do. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring.”

  The woman looked at him. “I don’t want—”

  “My God,” Ravic said. “You won’t disturb me at all. It’s not the first time someone has stayed here overnight because he had nowhere else to go. This is a hotel for refugees. Something like this happens almost every day. You can take the bed, I’ll sleep on the sofa. I’m used to it.”

  “No, no—I’ll just stay where I am. If I may only sit here, that’s all.”

  “All right, just as you like.”

  Ravic took off his coat and hung it on a hook. Then he took a blanket and a cushion from his bed and moved a chair close to the sofa. He fetched a bathrobe from the bathroom and hung it over the chair. “Here,” he said, “this is what I can give you. If you like, you can have pajamas too. You’ll find some in the drawer over there. I won’t trouble about you any more. You may use the bathroom now. I’ve got to do something in here.”

  The woman shook her head.

  Ravic stood in front of her. “But we’ll take off your coat,” he said. “It’s pretty wet. And let me have your hat too.”

  She gave him both. He put the cushion in the corner of the sofa. “That’s for your head. Here is a chair so that you won’t fall off when you go to sleep.” He moved it closer to the sofa. “And now your shoes! Soaked through, of course! A good way to catch cold.” He took off her shoes, got a pair of short woolen socks out of the drawer and slipped them over her feet. “Now, that’s better. During critical times have an eye for comfort. That’s an old soldier’s maxim.”