Skip to product information
1 of 1

On the Marble Cliffs

On the Marble Cliffs

by Ernst Jünger, translated from the German by Tess Lewis, introduction by Jessi Jezewska Stevens, afterword by Maurice Blanchot

Regular price $14.95
Regular price Sale price $14.95

The February 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.

Set in a world of its own, Ernst Jünger’s On the Marble Cliffs is both a mesmerizing work of fantasy and an allegory of the advent of fascism. The narrator of the book and his brother, Otho, live in an ancient house carved out of the great marble cliffs that overlook the Marina, a great and beautiful lake that is surrounded by a peaceable land of ancient cities and temples and flourishing vineyards. To the north of the cliffs are the grasslands of the Campagna, occupied by herders. North of that, the great forest begins. There the brutal Head Forester rules, abetted by the warrior bands of the Mauretanians.

The brothers have seen all too much of war. Their youth was consumed in fighting. Now they have resolved to live quietly, studying botany, adding to their herbarium, consulting the books in their library, involving themselves in the timeless pursuit of knowledge. However, rumors of dark deeds begin to reach them in their sanctuary. Agents of the Head Forester are infiltrating the peaceful provinces he views with contempt, while peace itself, it seems, may only be a mask for heedlessness.

Tess Lewis’s new translation of Jünger’s sinister fable of 1939 brings out all of this legendary book’s dark luster.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681376257
Pages: 144
Publication Date:


Jünger brings to mind a different epoch, one when both soldiering and philosophy held a vastly different status in civic life...[his] writing has a comparable feeling with certain alchemical emblems: still waters, wise vipers, and black dogs. One encounters a blissed-out feel for the natural world here, but also terrible foreboding. On the Marble Cliffs is a warning of what lies up ahead.
—Ian Penman, City Journal

On the Marble Cliffs [is] a parable of ascendant barbarism that contains an oblique protest against Nazism…[In] On the Marble Cliffs, Jünger attempted something riskier: a dark fable with unmistakable modern overtones.
—Alex Ross, The New Yorker

The classical beauty of the writing, in Tess Lewis’s exquisite translation, gives a sense of the author’s sympathies. . . . [H]is short, prismatic book is beautiful.
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

[A] literary achievement of the highest order.
—Nil Santiáñez, The Massachusetts Review

[Jünger] was a sporadic critic of the moral obtuseness that grew like vines all around him.
—Thomas Meany, Harper’s Magazine

Jünger’s coolly detached empirical style, with its Nietzschean cadences evident in On the Marble Cliffs, has its detractors. . . . Yet the primacy of his poetic imagination, his born naturalist’s observational perceptiveness, and the noble humanness undergirding his writing lend it unequivocal greatness.
—Will Stone, Times Literary Supplement

On the Marble Cliffs might be called Jünger’s descent into the maelstrom, a record of terror seen and survived. . . . An allegory that does not moralize, its hermeticism is inviolable and inimitable.
—Thomas R. Nevin, Ernst Jünger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914–1945

On the Marble Cliffs is a great book and virtually no one I’ve ever mentioned it to has read it.
—W.S. Merwin

View full details
  • Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with a New York Review Books Gift Card.

    Gift Cards 
  • A membership for yourself or as a gift for a special reader will promise a year of good reading.

    Join NYRB Classics Book Club 
  • Is there a book that you’d like to see back in print, or that you think we should consider for one of our series? Let us know!

    Tell us about it