Life on loan summary

Life on loan summary

“Life on loan” is a novel by the German writer Erich Maria Remarque.

Alps. Sanatorium for patients with tuberculosis "Montana". Clerfeh, an honored race car driver, comes to visit his good friend and former teammate Holman. On the way along the winding mountain road, Clerfe meets a horse-drawn sleigh. The roar of the engine frightened the animals, because of which they stood on their hind legs and brought the sled directly to the car. The motorist hastened to help the driver, but met with a rather sharp rebuff. The sleigh was led by a tall, stately man in a black fur hat, his companion was a young beautiful woman who, frightened, grabbed the handrails of her walking "crew".

Then Klerfe did not yet know that the man's name was Boris Volkov. He is a wealthy Russian white emigrant, renting a house near the Montana. The woman is twenty-four-year-old Belgian Lilian Dunkirk. Both of them are terminally ill and have been living in a sanatorium for several years, which at the same time is their salvation and a comfortable prison.

After a chance meeting between Clerfe and Volkov, there is a shadow of mutual antipathy. Men still do not understand its origins, but the answer is simple - they both like one woman

Finally, Clerfe gets to the sanatorium. He is surprised by this completely extraordinary new world, which lives by its own laws. Time seems to have stopped here. Holman, with whom Clerfe had been driving along highways not so long ago, tells his friend about the inhabitants of Montana. Permanent residents, that is, sick, can be distinguished from guests, that is, healthy, by persistent alpine tanning. Most of them look young and healthy, but in fact they are all doomed to live in constant expectation of imminent death. Any cold, slight runny nose can cost the guest of the sanatorium life. Patients call Montana a comfortable prison and are afraid to part with its invisible fetters, because going out into the open will mean death for them.

Holman yearns for racing, doctors forbade him to drive a car. He asks the former partner about affairs at the championships and secretly rejoices that Clerfe was not successful with other partners. A friend is lying to a sick comrade - in fact, he successfully performs in tandem with other athletes - just Klerfe does not want to upset Holman, he still no longer reads the sports chronicle.

Their conversation is interrupted by the unexpectedly appeared Lillian. She complains about Krokodilitsa (as patients call a senior nurse), who forbids her to walk in the evenings, and the Dalai Lama (head doctor), who ordered an x-ray for tomorrow.

Contrary to the exhortations of Krokodilitsa and meticulous Volkov, the company goes to have fun at the Palace Bar. There, over a glass of wine, Clerfeh talks with Lillian about life and death. After the recent funeral of her friend Agness Somerville (former resident of the sanatorium), Lillian especially often thinks about death. At every step she sees signs of an imminent demise and her own illness seems many times more serious than it was before. Clerfe is somewhat close to Lillian. He is a race car driver and is on the verge of death during each race. He, like Dunkirk, is constantly losing someone from his environment.

For example, Clerfe just received the news that his friend had died. He got into a car accident. At first he was turned into a helpless cripple, amputated leg. The worst thing is that his lover did not even come to visit the patient. Clerfe knew that for a long time she cheated on his friend. Now that he is gone, the woman is only interested in one question - whether she will receive money from her ex. Clerfe believes that death for his friend was a reward, a real salvation from disappointment, shame, a painful existence. Lilian, by contrast, is convinced that death cannot be happiness. Everyone - a cripple, deceived, destitute, lost everything - wants to live. Only the one who is on the heels of death can truly value life.

After the evening, Clerfe decides to send Lillian a branch of snow-white orchids, which he buys in a shop near the local crematorium. However, seeing the flowers in her room, the girl immediately throws them out the window. For her, beautiful flowers are a mystical message from the other world, because exactly the same orchids, she laid a few days earlier on Agnes's coffin. As it later turns out, enterprising traders collect the best flowers from the graves before sending the body to the crematorium and resell them.

An awkward situation is resolved. Clerfe again takes Lilian for a walk, and they spend some wonderful days together. In Lilian, as if something had changed. If earlier she was ready to cling to life, painfully prolonging it with her safe imprisonment, then with the advent of Clerfe, for the first time she wanted to live for real. What did she essentially see? Childhood, youth, which almost does not remember. Then the war with its deprivation, hunger, eternal fear. After the war, an open disease and immediate isolation in a sanatorium.

Lilian has been here for four years. There are cases of absolute cure for patients, but they are very rare. Most of the inhabitants of "Montana" die within its walls, and she does not want to do this. Lilian decides to leave the sanatorium, go to Paris and begin his short but real life.

Lilian Dunkirk cashes in a solid condition left by his parents, and begins to spend money. She does not need to save, save for the future, plan a family. Lilian puts down a lot of money for new things and entertainment.

Clerfe, meanwhile, temporarily leaves for Rome. There, he signs a contract with a car racing company and for a while agrees with former mistress Lydia Morelli. Upon returning to Paris, Clerfe does not recognize Lilian - from a provincial sweet girl she turns into a charming woman. Now a real romance is beginning between young people.

Despite the attempts of Uncle Lilian, who does not know about the illness of his niece, to pass her off as a wealthy gentleman, the girl chooses Clerfe. She absolutely does not have time for hypocrisy, she does not need to make far-sighted calculations, she just wants to love and be loved.

The only thing Lillian does not share is Clerfe's occupation. She does not understand why strong, healthy young people just risk their own lives. Racing Lillian does not attend. For her, this is too painful a sight.

The lovers break up several times, but each engagement is followed by another meeting and violent reconciliation. Clerfe is so attached to the girl that offers her to become his wife. Lilian understands - now Clerfe has a future, while she does not have one. She withholds from her lover the aggravation of her illness and offers to wait until next year. Lilian knows very well that she cannot last so long.

However, fate plays a cruel joke - the first of her life leaves Clerfe. He is beaten to death during races in Monte Carlo. Lilian, with the support of Boris Volkov, who immediately found the girl, returns to Montana. She reproaches the universe for taking Clerfeh before her. This is unfair! That was not supposed to happen!

On the way to Montana, Lillian meets Holman. He was among those rare lucky ones who managed to overcome the disease. Now he can even return to racing, taking Clerfe's vacant seat.

Death overtakes Lilian Dunkirk six weeks after the death of her lover. The girl dies in the sanatorium "Montana" from hemorrhage.

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