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On the Marble Cliffs (Modern Classics) Paperback – 27 Aug 1970

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (27 Aug. 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140029850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140029857
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By susan traveler on 19 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a unique book; a combination of myth, parody, and history. It helps to know about the author's life before you read the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Another One to Save From the Out-of-Print Oblivion 7 Feb. 2000
By Bill Best - Published on
Format: Paperback
EJ's "On the Marble Cliffs" is one of those literary classics that suffers from the reputation of its author. Because of his position as a German army official during the occupation of France in WWII, Junger is one of the more controversial authors of the century. He is also one of the best, but his work goes largely unread in the English-speaking world. Even today, people in the countries that made up the Allied powers look upon all Germans of the time as Nazis; we seem unable to tell the difference between party officials and Germans who were forced to do what they could considering the circumstances. However, this book- as well as Junger's unpublished-in-English diaries of WWII- tell the story of the part of Germany that resisted in the only way that it could. "On the Marble Cliffs" is an allegorical account of what would eventually become the great tragedy of the century. Some of the metaphors Junger uses are obvious. Some are extremely confused. However, the book's literary merit shines through in every page. It is largely hailed as the only classic produced under the Third Reich; and it is one of the few pieces of literary resistance that passed through the censors. Yet it has been out of print for years, and almost unattainable to anyone interested. To get my copy, I had to talk to a store in Kentucky who had contact with a store in Canada that sold me a paperback copy for $30. This seems to be somewhat of a tragedy considering the value of the book. This situation is due primarily to a misunderstanding of Junger himself, which could easily be remedied if HIS BOOKS WERE STILL IN PRINT!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An anti-Nazi allegory published right in Nazi Germany 1 Sept. 2011
By Michel Baudin - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is astonishing by the context in which it was published, nazi Germany in 1939, by the author's getting away with it, and by what it reveals on the thoughts and behaviors of anti-Nazi Germans during that period.

In an imaginary land, the narrator, a botanist who lives with his brother in a house on marble cliffs, sees the peaceful world he loves destroyed and taken over by a local lord, the "master of the forest," whose henchmen burn, pillage, murder, and terrify first the ranchers in the pastureland and then the farmers behind the cliffs. After first willfully ignoring what is happening and continuing the pursuit of botany as "spiritual resistance," he eventually joins the fight too late to make a difference and sees his house burn, including his botanical collection, as the flag of the master of the forest flies over the village. The Nazis did not miss the point and would have subjected Jünger to their usual treatment for opponents, but Hitler, an admirer of Jünger's earlier work, told them not to.

The narrator's obsession with botany is a fruitless escape from the unpleasant reality. When movements like the Nazis, or religious fanatics, start gaining traction, burying yourself in work while wishing it would go away lets it in fact grow and eventually destroy everything that matters to you. It is not a stretch to interpret the story as criticism of the failure of the German elites to keep the Nazi disaster from happening.

Two episodes of the book stand out as prophetic. In their botanical explorations the brothers stumble onto a charnel house, where an executioner is cutting up human bodies and skulls are on stakes outside. It is widely viewed as prefiguring the extermination camps that were built a couple of years after the book came out. Concentration camps already existed in 1939, but our two botanists see no one alive. As a reader, I find this scene more reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which Jünger may have known, and which most know today through the movie Apocalypse Now (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]. The narrator's reaction to this horror is consistent with his head-in-the-sand attitude throughout the book: after running away in terror and disgust, he and his brother return to the scene to finish their botanical survey!

The second episode is a night visit by a quixotic adventurer named Braquemart and a young nobleman named Sunmyra who go off the next day to fight singlehandedly against the master of the forest. According to Jünger biographer Heimo Schwilk, this episode is based on a visit by Hitler-opponent Heinrich von Trott zu Solz, whose brother Adam was executed 5 years later as a conspirator in the July 20 plot to kill Hitler.

As a German stylist, Jünger ranks with Goethe and Thomas Mann. The language has evolved in the past 70 years, and his is a bit old fashioned, but the rhythm of his perfectly crafted sentences makes you want to read them aloud. The French language appears at odd places in the story, possibly from memories of Jünger's World War I adversaries. The narrator overhears soldiers of the master of the forest singing a lewd song in French. "Braquemart," French slang for the male organ. And the master of the forest has a bloodhound named Chiffon-Rouge.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Multi-Layered and Difficult 8 Mar. 2009
By dizzy dean - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have the 1947 English translation by Stuart Hood, so I cannot say what changes were made for this Penguin edition. Maybe the first work of Juenger's later phase, where he is more interested in broader issues which are hidden in a symbolic narrative. The narrative itself is interesting, being a study in the advance of fascism, but the metaphors and symbolism are perhaps lost a bit in translation. I found myself frustrated at many turns, knowing that there was some hidden meaning on the page before me, but which was obscured--perhaps due to translation, time or lack of context. Still, an interesting book. I plan on revisiting after I've worked through more of Juenger's later works.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
a short note about the first customer review 21 Nov. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Its wrong that the Magic Realism is a typical latin-american genre. In german literature after 1945 (even before the latin magic realism existed) we have a "Strömung" called "Magischer Realismus" - but its darker than the latin one. unfortunately the world didnt took notice about the german "Magischer Realismus" and forgot such great german-magic-realism authors like: Ernst Kreuder, Hermann Kasack, Kaschnitz, Langgässer, Hans Henny Jahnn, Frido Lampe ...
Than, in the 60s, latin authors like Garcia-Marquez and Ruan Rulfo became famous and the hole world spoke about the "new sensation".
so, when you like Jünger, you have to read one of these authors.
7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Beauty and the beast 19 Dec. 2001
By Nicole - Published on
Format: Paperback
(...) The author may have been a beast, but his prose is of utmost beauty. A wonderful specimen of magical realism, this novel rivals the best of Marquez. From a German standpoint, this typically Latin-American genre takes on a whole new spin. Even the fantastical is described with incredible precision. The thick symbolism explores whole new dimensions. Don't be blinded by the superpowered dogs or snake-taming boy. You only need to look as far as the flower collection of the botantist narrator. The geometries excrutiatingly detailed there echo throughout the entire book in a rich and subtle symbolism. On the Marble Cliffs is a work of genius. (...)
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