Read The Glass Bees (New York Review Books Classics) by Ernst Jünger Free Online
Book Title: The Glass Bees (New York Review Books Classics)|
The author of the book: Ernst Jünger
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Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 6.7
The size of the: 32.52 MB
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Edition: NYRB Classics
Date of issue: September 30th 2000
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Ernst Jünger is perhaps the only author of a WWI book who seems to have enjoyed the experience - or at least felt more alive in the midst of human suffering. Here he wrote a science fiction novel of ideas.
The events of the story are intermittent. A former cavalryman is tipped off about doing some dirty work for the mysterious genius Zapparoni, a titan of industry and molder of society in his image not too out of place in Silicon Valley. Much of the book is either the the narrator's flashbacks or his meditations about the present.
But as the horse was made obsolete by the car and the tank, Jünger makes hay about societal obsolescence, or even human obsolescence. the old world is gone, perhaps never to return. True, technology has done us some obvious good - who feels nostalgic for horse manure in the streets or smallpox? But replacing human labor is a more ambiguous result. In the more negative sense, I am reminded of Walter Benjamin's thought on Mechanical Reproduction, or Kafka's Penal Colony, and this narrator approaches the idea from a different set of first principles.
Zapparoni warns us to 'beware the bees' - glass and ceramic bees in his garden which are more efficient than regular bees - replacing and superseding the creation of life itself. Is it any coincidence that unmanned aerial vehicles so often used in surveillance and combat roles are called 'drones'?
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Read information about the authorErnst Jünger was a decorated German soldier and author who became famous for his World War I memoir Storm of Steel. The son of a successful businessman and chemist, Jünger rebelled against an affluent upbringing and sought adventure in the Wandervogel, before running away to briefly serve in the French Foreign Legion, an illegal act. Because he escaped prosecution in Germany due to his father's efforts, Junger was able to enlist on the outbreak of war. A fearless leader who admired bravery above all else, he enthusiastically participated in actions in which his units were sometimes virtually annihilated. During an ill-fated German offensive in 1918 Junger's WW1 career ended with the last and most serious of his many woundings, and he was awarded the Pour le Mérite, a rare decoration for one of his rank.
Junger served in World War II as captain in the German Army. Assigned to an administrative position in Paris, he socialized with prominent artists of the day such as Picasso and Jean Cocteau. His early time in France is described in his diary Gärten und Straßen (1942, Gardens and Streets). He was also in charge of executing younger German soldiers who had deserted. In his book Un Allemand à Paris , the writer Gerhard Heller states that he had been interested in learning how a person reacts to death under such circumstances and had a morbid fascination for the subject.
Jünger appears on the fringes of the Stauffenberg bomb plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (July 20, 1944). He was clearly an inspiration to anti-Nazi conservatives in the German Army, and while in Paris he was close to the old, mostly Prussian, officers who carried out the assassination attempt against Hitler. He was only peripherally involved in the events however, and in the aftermath suffered only dismissal from the army in the summer of 1944, rather than execution.
In the aftermath of WW2 he was treated with some suspicion as a closet Nazi. By the latter stages of the Cold War his unorthodox writings about the impact of materialism in modern society were widely seen as conservative rather than radical nationalist, and his philosophical works came to be highly regarded in mainstream German circles. Junger ended his extremely long life as a honoured establishment figure, although critics continued to charge him with the glorification of war as a transcending experience.
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