Cover image for A dubious past : Ernst Junger and the politics of literature after Nazism
A dubious past : Ernst Junger and the politics of literature after Nazism
Neaman, Elliot Yale, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 315 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PT2619.U43 Z719 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A Dubious Past examines from a new perspective the legacy of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), one of the most fascinating figures in twentieth-century German intellectual life. From the time he burst onto the literary scene with The Storms of Steel in the early 1920s until he reached Olympian age in a reunited Germany, Jünger's writings on a vast range of topics generated scores of controversies. In old age he became a cultural celebrity whose long life mirrored the tragic twists and turns of Germany's most difficult century.

Elliot Neaman's study reflects an impressive investigation of published and unpublished material, including letters, interviews, and other media. Through his analysis of Jünger's work and its reception over the years, he addresses central questions of German intellectual life, such as the postwar radical conservative interpretation of the Holocaust, divided memory, German identity, left and right critiques of civilization, and the political allegiances of the German and European political right. A Dubious Past reconceptualizes intellectual fascism as a sophisticated critique of liberal humanism and Marxism, one that should be seen as coherent and--for a surprising number of contemporary intellectuals--all too attractive.

Author Notes

Elliot Y. Neaman is Associate Professor of History at the University of San Francisco.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this well-written and well-argued work, Neaman asks why J"unger, decorated WW I veteran, literati, Francophile, and "posthistoire visionary," and his revolutionary conservative ideas have continued to retain their intellectual appeal among some Germans. He attributes the continued resonance of J"unger's ideas, his uncanny ability to tap the surviving reservoir of fascist, antibourgeois, antidemocratic resentment in post-Weimar Germany, to his aloofness from politics (his "Uberparteilichkeit or nonpartisan stand) and to his well-placed connections among both literary and political figures. Both enabled him and his On the Marble Cliffs (1939), for example, to survive the Nazi censors unscathed. Neaman also suggests that the specific historical circumstances of the post-1945 era played an important role in the continued receptivity toward his older as well as his contemporary works. An infusion of "humanism" into his works helped J"unger reinvent his "conservative" platform, enabling him to attract Germans, young and old, who feared the dilution of German culture amidst encroaching American consumerism and desired to retain elements of a past while minimizing the Nazi episode. Informed by J"unger's letters and literary pieces, film, and secondary literature, Neaman has written a balanced, informative account. Graduate, faculty. M. Shevin-Coetzee; George Washington University