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Books  >>  Travel

Heinrich Heine

Travel Pictures

Heinrich Heine Travel Pictures
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Biographical note:

Heinrich Heine (1791–1856) was a journalist, an essayist, and one of the most celebrated German Romantic poets. As a young man Heine converted from Judaism to Protestantism. In 1831, he emigrated from Germany to France. Heine is remembered chiefly for selections of his lyric poetry, many of which were set to song by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Strauss.

Recipient of the 2012 Gold Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year, Peter Wortsman is the author of A Modern Way to Die: Small Stories and Microtales, the plays The Tattooed Man Tells All and Burning Words, the recent memoir Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray, and the forthcoming novel Cold Earth Wanderers. His translations from the German include Robert Musil¢s Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, Heinrich Heine¢s Travel Pictures, Peter Altenberg¢s Telegrams of the Soul, and Tales of the German Imagination: From The Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann, an anthology published by Penguin Classics.

Country of final manufacture:

CA

Excerpt from book:

Famous for its sausages and university, the City of Göttingen belongs to the King of Hanover and has 999 hearths, various churches, a maternity hospital, an observa- tory, a students’ lock-up, a library and a Ratskeller in which the beer is very good. The brook that runs by is called the Leine and the locals like to bathe in it in the summer; the water is very cold and in places so wide that even a strong lad like Lüder had to take a running jump to leap across. The city itself is lovely and most pleasing to look upon with your back turned to it. It must have been around for a pretty long time because I can remember back five years ago, when I enrolled and was shortly thereafter expelled, it already had the same gray, precociously antiquated appearance. Göttingen was, then as now, fully equipped with cords, poodles, dissertations, tea-dances, washerwomen, compendiums, roast squabs, student fraternities, commencement carriages, carved pipe-heads, privy counselors, legal counsels, vice-deans of expulsion, the smart set and other smart alecks.

Main description:

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), one of Germany’s most revered poets, is equally well-known for his idiosyncratic prose, the vibrant voice of which feels astonishingly modern in its familiar tone and thematic acrobatics. Travel Pictures comprises the accounts of four journeys taken at different times in his life. The opening "Harz Journey," a quirky chronicle of his walking tour in the Harz Mountains, is the text that first made him famous. But in all four accounts, Heine, seasoned by the skepticism of a born outsider, does more than climb mountains, ford streams and cross borders. In this remarkable book, Heine propels German letters into the Modern mindset. Freud cites a few of Travel Pictures’ most humorous passages in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. Heine’s incomparable lyric vision lifts the book into the transcendent realm of great journey literature.

Review quote:

Heine possesses that divine malice without which I cannot imagine perfection . . . And how he employs German! It will one day be said that Heine and I have been by far the first artists of the German language. —Friedrich Nietzsche

Heine’s short account of his journey through the Harz Mountains remains today, with Sterne’s memories of France and Goethe’s record of Italy, the greatest travel writing in literary history. Funny, biting, but always tender, his digressive rendering is inimitably pleasurable. Now Peter Wortsman’s new translation brings to the English reader Heine’s sumptuous syntax, verbal wit, and stylistic virtuosity. —Eric Banks

Peter Wortsman's new translation of Travel Pictures, Heine's major early work, reveals a mercurial writer with a vitriolic streak, one whose comic voice is equal match to his lyricism. —Joao Ribas, Review of Contemporary Fiction

This poet was Heinrich Heine, who dominated me longer than any one author that I have known. —William Dean Howells

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