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On the Marble Cliffs (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – July 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (July 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140029850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140029857
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Bill Best on February 7, 2000
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 However, this book- as well as Junger's unpublished-in-English diaries of WWII- tell the story of the part of Germany that resisted in the only way that it could.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!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michel Baudin on September 1, 2011
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By dizzy dean on March 8, 2009
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.
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