Writing as a »Continuation of War by Other Means«: Ernst Jünger in Weimar Germany

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In December 1928, Ernst Jünger wrote to his brother Friedrich Georg: “Wir müssen uns […] bemühen, die literarische Tätigkeit als Kriegsmittel zu betrachten.” This project analyzes the result of said activity: viz. text understood as a means of war. That is to say, it does not aim at answering questions regarding Jünger’s political stance as it is mostly the case with scholarly literature on the subject matter at hand, but instead, it addresses a lacuna in the relevant scholarship by systematically examining the textual material as a subversive means of action that allows Jünger for the continuation of war. The examination at hand therfore begins with an analysis of Jünger’s Kriegstagebuch, in order to fathom the basis on which he will translate, transform, and instrumentalize the “Sprache der Materialschlacht” as a literary means of expression. Subsequently, it turns to the textual strategies that Jünger employs in his literature, which ought to facilitate the initiation of those who did not directly participate in the Great War to the circle of the ‘Frontsoldaten.’ Following this, the analysis of his Politische Publizistik shows that Jünger is continuously striving for a dynamic modern nationalism that always already aims at protruding beyond the borders of the state. And lastly, an examination of Der Arbeiter will show that Jünger conceptually dissolves those borders, by heralding the planetary era of the worker based on a new concept of language that stems from the material itself, which not least marks the moment when he turns his back on nationalism(s) in favor of the planetary. In each of these steps, I argue that Jünger bases his elaborations on the language of the “Material(schlacht)” instead of succumbing to the stipulated rhetoric from the realm of politics, which not only shows how he aims at perpetually waging war against the political status quo, but also that it is impossible to place him on a political map or even to tell what exactly his politics are.

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  • 03/12/2018
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