Anybody can despise bourgeois society for a decade or two, but it takes considerable stamina to do so for almost a century. Either the middle-class universe catches up with its detractors, in which case they are likely to end up on a pedestal, or history passes them by and they will be dismissed as tedious cranks. By the time he died just seven weeks short of his 103rd birthday, Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) had covered all the bases: he was a scandal, a legend, and a bit of a bore. To his critics he remains the gift that keeps on giving offence, a veritable cornucopia of irritation. There is so much to get upset about: his early glorification of war and combat; the anti-democratic polemics against the Weimar Republic; the fact that his misgivings about Hitler's regime never translated into active opposition; the...

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