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biography - federal republic

ernst jünger in 1955

Ernst Jünger, 1955.

Ernst Jünger's biography after the Second World War was certainly much less eventful than in his previous fifty years. After a great deal of controversy and debate over the so-called Fall Jünger (The Jünger Case) in the immediate post-War era, Jünger has slowly moved into the fold of the canon of German literature, despite continuing vociferous debate about his personality and work, much of which has been desperately partisan - either praising his work or damning it according to a predetermined political matrix.

Whilst the externals of Jünger's life, especially after he moved to the Upper Swabian village of Wilflingen and took up residence in the Forester's house of the great Stauffenberg estate in 1950, were relatively quiet, his literary production continued apace. Indeed some of his most interesting and least studied works were produced after the Second World War.

Late 1940s

In the immediate aftermath of the War, Jünger was forbidden from publishing in the British Occupied Zone, and his first works actually appeared outside Germany: Der Friede in Amsterdam in 1946, Atlantische Fahrt in London for German POWs in 1947 and the travel diaries Aus der goldenen Muschel in Zürich in 1948. Moreover, Jünger refused to fill in the denazification Fragebogen (questionnaire), which did nothing to speed a lifting of the ban.

In 1949, Jünger's war diaries were published as Strahlungen (these too were subject to later revision) and the utopian, quasi-science fiction novel Heliopolis appeared. Heliopolis is another multi-dimensional novel, but the conflict between the Landvogt and the Proconsul does reflect (on one level) the struggle for power between the Wehrmacht and the Nazi Party.

1950s

ernst jünger's hourglass collection

Ernst Jünger's hour-glass collection.

Junger's writing took a distinctly essayistic turn in the 1950s. Among others, he wrote:

At the same time, Jünger also produced the short story Die Eberjagd (1952) and the novel Besuch auf Goldenholm (1952), a novel clearly influenced by his early experiments with Mescaline and LSD. The novel Gläserne Bienen (1957) deals in a very interesting fashion with technology and simulacra and posits pre-Baudrillardian notions of hyper-realities.

1960s

ernst jünger in 1960

Ernst Jünger pictured in 1960.

Jünger's cultural and literary awards continued to accumulate. He also began to travel much more widely than he had previously done. His destinations included Egypt and Sudan (1962), the Far East (1965) and Angola (1966). His first wife, Gretha, died in 1960, and in 1962 he married Liselotte Lohrer (née Baeuerle).

His essayistic work continued with Der Weltstaat (1960), Sgraffiti (1960), a fragmentary continuation of the (1961), Typus, Name, Gestalt (1963) and Maxima-Minima both deriving from his subsequent thoughts on Der Arbeiter. The decade also saw the first version of his collected Works and autobiographical Subtile Jagden, containing anecdotes and reflections on his entomological pursuits.

1970s

ernst jünger with a beetle, 1977

Jünger pictured with a beetle, 1977.

Jünger continued to travel widely and to collect literary and cultural awards. His most significant works of this period are:

ernst jünger with albert hoffmann

Ernst Jünger and Albert Hofmann, 1978.

1980s

Jünger continued to travel and to receive literary prizes. His writing now concentrated on literary reworkings of his diaries since 1965 in the series Siebzig Verweht I - V (1980 - 1997). Four works are of note:

The 1980s also saw Jünger taking more of a public role, which is surely linked to the then ascendancy of the CDU in German politics. The Fall Jünger debate was rekindled when Frankfurt City Council decided to award him the Goethe Preis in 1982. In 1984, he took part in a ceremony of remembrance for the dead of the two world wars with Helmut Kohl and François Mitterand and the two statesmen visited him at Wilflingen in 1985 on his 90th birthday.

1990s

ernst jünger, 1994

Ernst Jünger, 1994.

1990 saw the publication of Die Schere, an obscure and difficult collection of aphorisms concerning the state of the modern/postmodern world. Jünger's publications have otherwise been restricted to further issues of Siebzig Verweht with the exception of an essay entitled "Gestaltwandel".

In 1995, Jünger's 100th birthday was celebrated to much official acclaim and the Feuilletonisten had much to keep themselves busy. Moreover, Jünger has already taken steps to ensure his continued place in the official memory of German literature by arranging the transfer of his papers to the German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar, where, with the permission of his widow, manuscripts, typescripts and original diaries are available for academic study.

Ernst Jünger died on 17th February 1998.

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