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Ernst Jünger

Europe's oldest man of letters is claimed by both radical nationalists and supporters of European union. Daniel Johnson describes how a German militarist became a symbol of Franco-German rapprochement and how his intellectual journey has mirrored the 20th century

By Daniel Johnson   March 1997

Suppose that achilles had not been punished by the gods for killing Hector, but had written the Iliad and Odyssey and much else besides. Suppose he had lived to be far older than Nestor. Now place him in the 20th century. That is Ernst J ünger. Eighty years after the Great War, and a dozen shrapnel wounds long since healed, he still waits for the coup de grâce.

When J ünger celebrated his own centenary nearly two years ago, younger Germans were surprised to learn of the presence among them of Europe’s greatest living man of letters. The second edition…

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