Correspondence and Afterlife. Ernst Jünger's Letter Archive

Project description

Ernst Jünger (1895–1998) assembled a letter archive containing 130,000 documents, which he systematically organized and kept at his home in Wilflingen. Today it is part of his literary estate held at the German Literature Archive in Marbach and includes approximately 90,000 letters to him (from around 5000 correspondents) and some 40,000 letters by him preserved as transcriptions or copies. The letters are significant both to Jünger’s opus in terms of his literary production and its reception but also more broadly in terms of 20th-century literary and political history. They constitute a documentary basis for his autobiographical writings and diary chronicles, in which he often refers to his correspondence. Beyond their value in relation to Jünger’s work as an author, they are also important as historical sources given Jünger’s role as a writer and political player with close contacts to a variety of different people over many decades.

The project aims to publish a monograph based on a qualitative screening of the letter archive. The book will present Jünger’s postal activities, the conceptualization of the archive, as well as its meaning for his work and reception. In addition, selected letters – even some with relatively unknown correspondents – will be included in the volume in order to emphasize the value of these materials. The project hypothesizes that through his preemptive archival measures, Jünger became a representative of a new form of authorship: the author as archivist. With predecessors from as early as the late 18th century (Goethe being only one of the most prominent among them) who took heed of newly established literature archives, the archive-author does not merely write for his times and contemporaries, but also establishes the documentary foundations necessary for the engagement with his works that will first take place generations later.

Fig. above: Stamp from 1998 for the death of Ernst Jünger

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) 2015–2018
Head researcher(s): Detlev Schöttker


08 Dec 2016 · 10.30 am

Detlev Schöttker: Die Ansichtskarten-Sammlung als Inspirationsquelle bei Walter Benjamin und Ernst Jünger

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut, Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Via dei Servi 51, 50122 Firenze (Italy)

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24 Aug 2015 · 4.00 pm

Detlev Schöttker: Fakten und Fiktionen in Ernst Jüngers Tagebüchern

Tongji-Universität Shanghai (China)

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25 Apr 2015 · 10.15 am

Detlev Schöttker: Fortschritt als Katastrophe. Benjamins Jünger-Lektüren im Pariser Exil

Deutsches Seminar der Universität Basel, Nadelberg 4, Raum 3

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