Conservative Identity Politics Identity and Transformation in Ernst Jünger’s Postwar Writings

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    • Presentation speakers
      • André Fischer, Department of German Studies, Stanford University


    The catastrophe of the First World War shattered numerous European national identities and led to various compensatory narratives that aimed to restore a sense of unity and belonging, forging the fiction of nationhood. Within the German context, probably few other figures reflect the cultural impact of this search for identity more diversely than philosopher and writer Ernst Jünger, particularly in regards to narrating nationhood. In his poetic and essayistic output, he probed several roles in order to model new forms of national identity and elitist belonging. From the figure of the warrior in his famous diaries from World War I to the Gestalt of the worker in the interwar politics of the conservative revolution and the Wehrmacht conspiracy against Hitler, Jünger reinvented types of individual agency through the reflection of dynamic historical events. His stylization as anarchic solitaire shifting from one totalitarian state towards another is part of a flexible authorial politics by means of which the author aims to sustain his supra­historical perspective by sensibly responding to the historical shifts of which he is a part. „I do not contradict myself – this is a temporal prejudice. I move through the different layers of truth, the highest of which always subjects the others.” His credo as a writer and thinker marks the will to unite the diverse experiences under several political systems into a new model of identity. This paper examines how through the constant reinvention of authorial types, Jünger’s prose unfolds as an in­between of reflecting historical facts and inventing collective identities – to retrace modern convergence of history and literature, a reading of Jünger is most compelling.