In 1915, a few months after the outbreak of the 1st World War, Sigmund Freud writes the essay "Zeitgemäßes über Krieg und Tod", in which he reflects about the reason why war is still possible in a cultural advanced society like the Western one, and about the relation of modernity with the problem of “evil”, violence and death.
This article takes its cue from this essay in order to analyse Erich Maria Remarque's novel "Im Westen nichts Neues" (1928-29) from an innovative point of view. Remarque himself argues in many interviews and articles that his book should neither be considered a historical report about the 1st World War nor merely an antiwar-novel about the dramatic experience of a lost generation, but rather a true psychological novel. As a matter of fact, "Im Westen nichts Neues" tells about the “human all too human” mechanisms of violence and power through an understated representation of the trauma of a generation which was thrown into a sort of “state of exception”, a state situated simultaneously outside and inside civil society. The essay aims to illustrate how Freud and Remarque take a very similar perspective in their works about the Great War when considering the complex relation between culture and war, civilisation and violence, psychology and power in Western modern society.