October 16, 2019

Ernst Jünger: Gespräche im Weltstaat - Podcast mit Jörg Magenau

Review of Jünger's WWII diaries in English translation - by Michael Lewis

A Dandy Goes to War

Review of 'A German Officer in Occupied Paris' By Ernst Jünger

Nazi Germany produced two wartime diaries of equal literary and historical significance but written from the most different perspectives conceivable. Victor Klemperer wrote furtively, in daily dread of transport to an extermination camp, a fate he was spared by the firebombing of Dresden. Ernst Jünger, by contrast, had what was once called a “good war.” As a bestselling German author, he drew cushy occupation duty in Paris, where he could hobnob with famous artists and writers, prowl antiquarian bookstores, and forage for the rare beetles he collected. Yet Klemperer and Jünger both found themselves anxiously sifting propaganda and hearsay to learn the truth about distant events on which their lives hung.
One might ask why it has taken 70 years for Jünger’s diary to appear in English translation, for there is no more detailed account of the occupation from the German point of view. But Jünger was always controversial, up to his death in 1998 at the age of 102. In Germany, polite opinion has never forgiven him for Storm of Steel, his memoir of World War I that saw in the experience of combat an ultimate test of manhood. “The finest, most visceral account of battle since the Iliad,” according to the New Statesman, his book made him a hero among German nationalists and ensured his privileged status in Nazi Germany. As it happens, Jünger was anything but a Nazi.

Storms of Steel - audio review of 2003 Hofmann translation

A quick and simple yet insightful introduction to Michael Hofmann's 2003 English translation of Storms of Steel, for anyone who hasn't read it. The reviewer also hadn't read anything of Jünger's prior to this review, so he has a pleasantly unbiased and uncomplicated perspective.

May 30, 2019

Review of EUMESWIL - with comparisons to FOREST PASSAGE

Eumeswil (by Ernst Jünger)




https://www.amazon.com/Eumeswil-Ernst-J%C3%BCnger/dp/0914386522/ref=sr_1_1?crid=24NQT4UG1MJWG&keywords=eumeswil&qid=1559209132&s=gateway&sprefix=eumeswi%2Caps%2C452&sr=8-1-spell
Ernst Jünger’s Eumeswil, one of the famous German’s last works, published when he was eighty-two years old, is often regarded as an exposition of libertarian thought. This is understandable, but completely wrong. Such a reading attempts to shoehorn concepts in which Jünger had little interest, or toward which he was actively hostile, into an exploration of unrelated themes. Moreover, it ignores that in this book, though somewhat masked, Jünger has more contempt for so-called liberal democracy than dislike for what some call tyranny. Thus, this book is not a call to rework society, or individual thought, along libertarian lines. It is instead a call for human excellence, and a criticism of the modern West for failure to achieve it, or to even try.

One cannot really understand Eumeswil without reading, preferably first reading, Jünger’s earlier The Forest Passage, which was published in 1951, twenty-six years before Eumeswil. On the surface, they are very different—this book is cast as dystopian science fiction, and The Forest Passage is a work of philosophical exposition. But Jünger himself explicitly ties the two books together, linking the earlier book’s concept of the “forest rebel” with this book’s concept of the “anarch.” In both books, the author’s focus on freedom, specific to each individual, is easily misinterpreted, because what freedom means to most people today is not what Jünger means by the term. Jünger means an internal, spiritual freedom, an elitist freedom, not the freedom of license and consequent ennui. This confusion drives all the misunderstandings of Eumeswil.

May 29, 2019

Review of THE FOREST PASSAGE by Ernst Juenger

The Forest Passage (by Ernst Jünger)


Ernst Jünger was one of the more fascinating men of the twentieth century. Remembered in the English-speaking world primarily for his World War I memoir, The Storm of Steel, he was famous in Europe for a range of right-leaning thought spanning nearly eighty years (he lived from 1896 to 1998). His output was prodigious, more than fifty books along with voluminous correspondence, and not meant or useful as a seamless ideology, although certain themes apparently recur. This book, The Forest Passage, was published in 1951, and is a compelling examination of how life should be conducted under modern ideological tyranny.

Jünger’s answer is jarring, both in its originality, and in its flat rejection of any relevancy of those modern (though failing) totems, liberal democracy and egalitarianism. Jünger was no Nazi; he contemptuously rejected their efforts to profit off his reputation, and was tangentially involved in the Stauffenberg plot. But he had just as little use for modern democracy or liberalism; much of his thought seems to have revolved around a type of social and political elitism with a spiritual core. It appears that The Forest Passage was his first exploration of the specific topic of resistance to tyranny; he developed the thought in this book further with a novel published in 1977, Eumeswil, which I have not read.

May 28, 2019

Ernst Jünger's "ON PAIN" and progressive hysteria in liberal democracies

Some excellent insights in this video on certain dangerously seductive illusions of liberal democracies - presented as and clearly stimulated by reflections on Ernst Jünger's long essay "ON PAIN".





April 18, 2019

The Path to a Higher Freedom: The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger


This review appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe now, go here.
Download PDF version here.

The Forest Passage by Ernst Jünger, trans. Thomas Friese
(Candor, NY: Telos Press, 2013)


This is a book about freedom. It was first published in 1951 as a response to the Nazi experience and the perceived threat of Soviet expansion. Its explicit focus was resistance to the totalitarian state. Yet its implicit focus is resistance to all forms of social control, including the soft totalitarianism of present-day mass democracy. And this why Ernst Jünger’s classic remains relevant today, and that is why Telos Press has reissued it.

Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) was twentieth-century Germany’s most prolific author. He was also the most controversial. He was a highly decorated soldier in World War 1 who first gained literary fame writing about his war experiences. Jünger aligned himself with the political Right during the 1920s and 1930s and wrote scathing attacks against the Weimar regime and the decadence of liberal democracy and communism. He championed a German nationalism based on aristocratic and martial values.

His early writings gained him a reputation as a fascist and militarist, an image that haunted him for the rest of his long literary career. But Jünger distanced himself from Hitler and the Nazis early on, realizing that the political Right and Left differed little; both led to totalitarianism. The war and Germany’s defeat changed Jünger’s perspective even more. His militarist leanings changed to an existential quest—a way to find freedom in the modern world, in which the mechanisms of total social control continued to multiply.

April 3, 2019