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A German Officer in Occupied Paris: The War Journals, 1941-1945 (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultur) (European Perspectives: ... in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism)

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Ernst Junger was one of twentieth-century Germany's most important-and most controversial-writers. Decorated for bravery in World War I and the author of the acclaimed western front memoir Storm of Steel, he frankly depicted war's horrors even as he extolled its glories. As a Wehrmacht captain during World War II, Junger faithfully kept a journal in occupied Paris and continued to write on the eastern front and in Germany until its defeat-writings that are of major historical and literary significance. Junger's Paris journals document his Francophile excitement, romantic affairs, and fascination with botany and entomology, alongside mystical and religious ruminations and trenchant observations on the occupation and the politics of collaboration. While working as a mail censor, he led the privileged life of an officer, encountering artists such as Celine, Cocteau, Braque, and Picasso. His notes from the Caucasus depict the chaos after Stalingrad and atrocities on the eastern front. Upon returning to Paris, Junger observed the French resistance and was close to the German military conspirators who plotted to assassinate Hitler in 1944. After fleeing France, he reunited with his family as Germany's capitulation approached. Both participant and commentator, close to the horrors of history but often distancing himself from them, Junger turned his life and experiences into a work of art. These wartime journals appear here in English for the first time, giving fresh insights into the quandaries of the twentieth century from the keen pen of a paradoxical observer.

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Review:

Through these journals, we see Jünger consorting with resistors and collaborators, intellectuals and artists, drinking champagne, dining in sumptuous restaurants, and accompanying other officers to nightclubs, where naked women perform. Wandering around the city, he combs through antiquarian bookshops, stops in at galleries, discusses literature with friends, and acutely observes plants and flowers change with the seasons. He recounts in detail his dreams, nightmares, and musings on war. . . . A unique historical testimony.--Kirkus Reviews

Ernst Jünger's record of German-occupied Paris and the battlefields of the Caucasus is a treasure trove for readers interested in the history of the Second World War. Even more, though, it is a literary accomplishment of the first order, a document of European modernism, in which this master stylist leaves traces of the violence of the age between the lines of his crystalline prose.--Russell A. Berman, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University, and senior fellow, Hoover Institution

Once read, these [journals] are never forgotten. They are surely the strangest literary production to come out of the Second World War, stranger by far than anything by Céline or Malaparte. Jünger reduces his war to a sequence of hallucinatory prose poems in which things appear to breathe and people perform like automata or, at best, like insects.--Bruce Chatwin, New York Review of Books (review of French edition)

These diaries are not only a remarkable document of the time, but bring us close to a strange but highly original person, always capable of a fresh response to the natural world, the atmosphere of Paris, and the hideous events that force themselves on his knowledge. Many of Jünger's texts have an inhuman chill; these diaries reveal his humanity.--Ritchie Robertson "Times Literary Supplement "

For English-speaking readers who do not know his work, A German Officer in Occupied Paris shows the many sides of this complex, elusive writer.--Edmund Fawcett "Financial Times "

Politically ambiguous and polymathic, Jünger led a remarkable and long life (he died at the age of 102 in 1998) as a soldier, writer and philosopher. "I suffer from a hyperacute sense of observation," he said, not as a boast, but by way of admitting to a weakness. The foibles of the Nazis, the deathwatch beetles he collected, the facial tics of liars, the flick of a Parisian woman's hair as she bought a hat, the physical contortions of an executed deserter: all these came under the magnifying glass in his war journals, kept from 1941-45. Their publication in English, fluently translated, is a remarkable moment, presenting a model of how to navigate an age of extremism.--Roger Boyes "The Times of London "

Expertly translated into English by Thomas and Abby Hansen . . . with an excellent biographical-critical foreword by Elliot Y. Neaman.--Michael Dirda "The Washington Post "

[Jünger's] writings and insights have long earned him sage status in Germany. This, the first publication in English of his diaries from 1941-45, heightens his complexity but also makes him a more rounded figure.--Alex Colville "The Spectator "

A German Officer in Occupied Paris is a remarkable slice of World War II, and makes for fascinating reading.--M.A. Orthofer "The Complete Review "

Jünger is an eloquent and informative witness to artistic life in occupied France, deportations, the burgeoning French Resistance and the conspirators against Hitler as well as the utter chaos after Stalingrad. This edition also includes extensive notes and a full glossary of all the people mentioned in the text.--Times Higher Education

About the Author:

Ernst Junger (1895-1998) was a major figure in twentieth-century German literature and intellectual life. He was a young leader of right-wing nationalism in the Weimar Republic. Among his many works is the novel On the Marble Cliffs, a symbolic criticism of totalitarianism written under the Third Reich. Elliot Neaman is professor of history at the University of San Francisco and the author of A Dubious Past: Ernst Junger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism (1999). Thomas Hansen, a longtime member of the Wellesley College German Department, is a translator from the German. Abby Hansen is a translator of German literary and nonfiction texts.

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