restricted access Facing the Face of the Enemy: Levinasian Moments in All Quiet on the Western Front and the Literature of War

This essay applies Emmanuel Levinas's concept of the face of the Other, and of the command to ethical action emanating from that face, to literature of war. After brief discussion of several works of war literature, the focus turns to Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Levinas's ideas about face-to-face encounters are contrasted with Max Picard's. The conclusion considers where Levinas and Remarque diverge, arguing that although Remarque's novel leaves us with death in the foxhole, Levinas's philosophy points toward a path that might lead out of the trenches toward life, bringing us at last face-to-face with peace.