This is the first time I’ve read anything by Ernst Junger — I mourn because surprise is so much part of the pleasure I’m deriving in reading him. Alas, you can’t discover a great author twice.
I’ll always remember what I was doing when I first picked up Storm of Steel — the time of year (late spring), the weather (hot). Anyhoo, absolutely taken aback by Junger’s nonchalance and insouciance, mouth dropping open practically every page, here he is in Flanders field (again)
The total absence of self-pity (“Our army is losing! There’s a good chance I might die here!”) is remarkable:
Fall, 1917, Flanders field:
The morning hours of 26 October were filled by drumfire of unusual severity. Our artillery too redoubled in fury on seeing the signals for a barrage that were sent up from the front. Every little piece of wood and every hedge was home to a gun, whose half-deaf gunners did their business.— Storm of Steel, p. 197
At eleven o’clock on October 26, Junger is ordered to the front with four men. As he nears the command dugout, “we came under aimed machine-gun fire, a sure sign that the enemy must have forced our line back.”