On The Marble Cliffs * Ernst Jünger (1939)

Auf Die Marmorklippen

I only knew Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) because he seems to be popular in the music scene that I get much music from and in the ‘new right’ political corner. I figured he would just be another (new) right thinker and never really thought about reading anything of him. Then I saw a Dutch translation of this famous book for only a few euros and decided to take it home. So now you get to read the first novel reviewed within these pages!
I didn’t have a clue about Jüngers writings, I didn’t really care. This famous book turned out to be a novel, not my favorite kinds of books! The novel is about hermitage, situated on marble cliffs in which some kind of secret order (“Mauritanians”) of elitarians grow plants, investigate nature and talk. The I-figure of the book gives long descriptions of situations, plants, animals, etc. However things seem to be very peacefull, in the vallies an uproar starts and peace is over with. All this is told in a colourfull way that made me page rapidly through the book.
If it wasn’t for the epilogue by Jan Ipema (who wrote two books about Jünger) the book would not have been more than a story to me. Now it seems that Jünger wrote about the upcoming fascism against which he took a stand, but he placed his book out of time (a bit of a Renaissance-like period it seems) and said that the book was timeless and had nothing to do with the situation of his day. Apparently Hitler thought that this was enough and even when many people thought that Jünger wrote against the Nazi regime, Hitler allowed him to stay in Germany, which he did. He did serve in both World Wars voluntarily and thought that war and suffering are necessary ingredients of life and that bombartments offered a great spectacle of fire-works, so maybe that is why he became so controversial.
Like I said, novels are not my kind of books, this one is no exception. If it had come to me without explanation and under a different name, I would have never noticed it. Now it just seems like a story to me by a writer who for some reason is both admired and controversial. I cannot judge whether the book is ‘literary of high standard’, I cannot filter out any secret messages and the story didn’t particularly appeal to me. So… just a novel. Oh, not a very big one by the way, only 125 pages and in English hard to get.

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