Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy birthday, Ernst Jünger

It is the birthday of German writer Ernst Jünger (1895), who was a towering figure in German literature for more than half a century. Jünger self-published his first book, Storm of Steel (1920) when he was in his 20s. It is a memoir of his experiences as a German officer on the Western Front during World War I. Jünger was known for his right-wing views and his belief that war created a mystical experience for the soldier. As Adolph Hitler rose to power, Jünger kept his distance from the Nazi Party, though he didn't openly criticize it. He served as an officer in Paris during the occupation, where he met such artists as Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso. Jünger never retracted anything he wrote but in later years he said Germany's ideology of war before and after World War I was a mistake. His writing was very popular in France, and he drew admirers from around the world, including French President François Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In 1987, at age 101, Jünger converted to Catholicism. Among his best known books are The Adventurous Heart (1929), On Nationalism and the Jewish Question (1930), The Worker (1932), On the Marble Cliffs (1939), Gardens and Streets (1942), The Peace (1947), Reflections (1948), The Glass Bees (1957), Approaches (1970), and Visit to Godenholm (1952). Jünger published on into the 1980s.

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