One of Germany’s most illustrious poets, Heinrich Heine is also celebrated for his idiosyncratic and vibrant prose. Heine’s lyrical, humorous, and revealing vision in these four accounts of his voyages in Italy and Germany raises Travel Pictures into the transcendent realm of great journey literature. Over one hundred poems pepper the text.Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) was onOne of Germany’s most illustrious poets, Heinrich Heine is also celebrated for his idiosyncratic and vibrant prose. Heine’s lyrical, humorous, and revealing vision in these four accounts of his voyages in Italy and Germany raises Travel Pictures into the transcendent realm of great journey literature. Over one hundred poems pepper the text.Heinrich Heine (1797–1856) was one of the most significant German Romantic poets. Many of his poems were set to music by Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.Peter Wortsman is an author and translator. His translations from the German include work by Robert Musil, Peter Altenberg, and Adelbert von Chamisso....
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Travel Pictures Reviews
After a few violent and generally grueling modern books I decided to escape to the Harz Mountains with Heinrich Heine. I did escape the violence, and enjoyed the voyage, but it didn’t go where I expected.The title is misleading. While there are a few rhapsodic pages devoted to Heine’s trek when he escapes from the university at Gottingen, this is primarily a collection of satires located in spots Heine had visited, chosen in order to wrap the firecrackers in a little local color. Some are good-natured jabs at human nature, some are flailing critiques of serious issues, and one is a mean-spirited episode in a personal literary vendetta.Running throughout is a complex relationship with Judaism. (Heine had converted to Christianity to further his career.) Two characters from this collection, a Jewish marquis and his Jewish quasi-servant (who is also a lottery-collector and podiatrist who claims to have treated Rothschilds) have, according to the afterword, become well-known clowns of German literature. The dialogues, embedded stories, philosophies of life and the role of Heine as listener all call to mind Jacques and his Master.Heine also displays his troubled view of his own Germanness; according to the afterword he thought Napoleon a great hero. The scenes set at the North Sea and Gottingen make for interesting reading about the very different aspects of a Germany before unification. And he certainly was contemptuous of Gottingen, portraying the equivalent of a debauched fraternity party starring students who have walked from the university to an inn in the Harz Mountains. The professors don’t fare any better.In Lucca, he observes a religious procession and then treats most monks and priests to his pointed pen, although recognizing a few true men of faith. This Lucca episode apparently was notorious for some thinly veiled eroticism and double entendres.Translator Peter Wortsman says Heine’s revolutionary approach to the German language is a very important aspect of his collection of travel pieces. But that is also the part difficult for a reader of the translation to grasp, although Wortsman succeeds with a few puns and inventive words. (That I noticed. There may be more I overlooked.) One can see Heine’s modern style, with asides to the reader and digressions that show the influence of writers like Sterne.This is, for the most part, a merry book. Heine is still young and his satire, even when passionate, doesn’t have the vicious, deadly tone that can come with many years of disillusionment. You can sense his boyish delight with first becoming an author and finding his voice.
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