All quietist on the Marina front? Reading Ernst jünger's auf den marmorklippen with fénelon

Common Knowledge 16 (1):66-78 (2010)


This article deals with the question of whether Ernst Jünger's long story Auf den Marmorklippen (1939)—the publication of the text itself as well as its contents—should be interpreted as political action or quietist retreat. The author examines the notions that the text advocates fatalism and escapism, both of which could be seen as tenets of (anti-)Catholic Quietism, of which Fénelon is cited as a practitioner. A close reading shows that Jünger's protagonists value their carefree and quiet lives before the story's wars and only join the militant Mauretanian order because of its promise of serene detachment. Jünger's world is imbued with manifestations of the divine—much unlike the Quietists'—and as such is worthy of the protagonists' sustained intellectual attention. They arrive at a thorough appreciation of the prevailing social and political situation and develop a new language to capture it. They understand that resistance against the ruling party is futile but do not reject their own responsibility for their friends and neighbors. The article concludes that Jünger presents the protagonists' escape at the end of the story as a temporary solution. He writes a complex narrative that leaves its interpretation and application to his readers. He neither fashions himself as a national redeemer-poet nor do his protagonists content themselves with a reclusive life forgetful of their surroundings

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