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This report is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

Letter from Germany Michael Hulse

[Editor's note: This letter was overtaken by events, as the 'Frankfurt Book Fair' report makes clear. However, the interest of the Ernst Jünger controversy remains.]

As economic hard times, from AEG to the corner shop, at last affect West Germany, and as the drift away from the centrist SDP-FDP alliance threatens to unseat the government, it seems to belong very much to the order of things in 1982 that Germany's literary scene should present an image of discord in the second half of the year. Ill-feeling runs high in the VS (the German society of authors) following the defections mentioned in the 'Frankfurt Book Fair' report. And in the award of the Goethe Preis to Ernst Jünger, veteran forerunner of fascism and antidemocratic elitist, literary Germany has been able to generate a Bollingen Prize furore of its own.

The Goethe Preis (currently running at DM 50,000), given by the city of Frankfurt, is not quite an annual award: it has been given thirty-three times since its inception in 1927. Recipients since then have included Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Mann and Georg Lukas, and this distinguished company, as well as the implied standard upheld in the name of the prize, exercises a certain pressure on the choice of the writer to be honoured, since certain serious considerations of ethical and political character must enter into the decision. Ernst Jünger has inevitably proved a controversial recipient. The panel responsible for the selection was apparently able, after discarding Golo ...


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