Beginning in 1949, the German novelist and essayist Ernst Jünger began a correspondence with the philosopher Martin Heidegger that lasted until Heidegger’s death in 1975. This volume contains the first English translation of their complete correspondence, as well as letters from Heidegger’s wife and son and others referred to in their correspondence. It also contains a translation of Jünger’s essay Across the Line (Über die Linie), his contribution to a Festschrift celebrating Heidegger’s sixtieth birthday.
Jünger’s and Heidegger’s correspondence is of enormous historical interest, revealing how both men came to understand their cultural roles in post-war Europe. It is valuable as well for showing the emergence of themes pervasive in Heidegger’s post-war thought: his cultural and political pessimism and his concern with the problem of global technology. The correspondence also reveals the evolution of a philosophical friendship between two writers central to twentieth century European thought, and the mutual influence that friendship worked on their writing.
Acknowledgements / Translator’s Introduction / Part I: The ˙Correspondence Between Ernst Jünger and Martin Heidegger / Part II: Ernst Jünger’s Essay, Across The Lin
Correspondence 1949-1975: Martin Heidegger and Ernst Jünger (2016) presents an intimate portrait of two influential German philosophers. The letters provide significant insight into Heidegger and Jünger’s philosophical minds, as well as the eras from post-WWII to the Cold War. The letters are an important collection, and while the correspondence can be found elsewhere, this version benefits from a fluid and intelligible translation. In addition, translator Timothy Sean Quinn, Philosophy Department Chair at Xavier University, has included Jünger’s essay “Über de Linie” or “Across the Line” at the end of the correspondence. This inclusion fits well, as mention of the essay appears in the early letters, written as a gift for Heidegger on his 60th birthday. “Across the Line” functions as bookends to the letters and provides the reader with a perspective of time, place, and philosophical theory that, perhaps, the letters alone could not perform....Quinn’s publication comes at an interesting time in the world, a time that reflects the era in which Jünger and Heidegger were composing. Quinn’s translation reads smoothly, is intellectually stimulating, and poetically intriguing. Without a doubt this collection is a valuable addition to the canon of research for both Heidegger and Jünger.
While each is a neglected figure in American academia, the correspondence of these two impressive thinkers makes for an impressive addition to understanding their oeuvres. There is a tendency to think of philosophers and writers as devoid of personal lives, and hopefully this volume
will contribute to rectifying that error.
With this elegant translation, Timothy Sean Quinn allows us to eavesdrop on a fascinating conversation: two prolific authors, moved by Nietzsche to confront nihilism, discuss their writings and share life’s moments - Heidegger consoles Jünger for the loss of his spouse, and the final letter, sent by Heidegger’s wife, is a collection of poems that had comforted him on his deathbed. The humanity of the thinker strikingly emerges in these beautifully rendered exchanges.
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was a German philosopher and one of the most important European thinkers of the twentieth century.
Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) was a celebrated German novelist, essayist and philosopher.
Timothy Sean Quinn, the translator, is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University, USA.