Deutschland: A Winter's Tale
Translated from the German and edited by T. J. Reed
T. J. Reed’s translation – first published in 1986 – of Heine’s satiric masterpiece is the only English version to shape up to its outrageous rhymes and rhythms with anything like matching vigour and conviction. It is reissued with facing German text and updated further reading, with the introduction and notes of the first edition succinctly and entertainingly summarising the issue of Heine’s time and his comic achievement, and with added comment on his place in a new united Germany.
Written four years before the 1848 Revolution, Heine’s Deutschland can be enjoyed today just as it was by its first readers – as a brilliantly funny read. In this ‘verse travelogue’ Heine comments on the homeland he sees again after years of exile. Bull’s-eyeing a number of targets – bourgeois lethargy, rampant Prussianism, phoney medievalism, German idealist philosophy – Europe’s wittiest poet delightfully introduces the reader to ‘Germany’s current ferment’ – and to the idea that the value system of the German middle class helped to maintain social injustice and political oppression.
‘That rare phenomenon, ironic political verse, light in manner but not in matter.’ – D. J. Enright, Observer
‘Deutschland is brilliantly entertaining and retains its relevance for the modern reader through its classic consideration of the fraught relationship between revolutionary ideals and their practical consequences … T. J. Reed reproduces the comic associations created by rhyme and succeeds beautifully in recreating the pointed, epigrammatic effect of the terse rhythm. This bilingual edition is a fitting tribute to Heine – in Reed’s memorable phrase – that “passionate defender and outrageous taker of liberties”.’ – Anita Bunyan, Jewish Chronicle
‘Reed’s version is brilliantly successful, at times achieving what one might have thought impossible: English verse as witty and precise as the original.’ – Forum for Modern Language Studies
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE (1749–1832) was born in Frankfurt-am-Main. Educated at home in all the subjects of the day, he studied law at Leipzig and Strasburg, and at Leipzig also attended the poetry lessons of the influential Enlightenment figure Christian Gellert. In 1775 he was appointed to an administrative post at the court of the Duke of Weimar, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Goethe was active in numerous fields from literature to the natural sciences, and his well-documented life (particularly the many love affairs) constantly fed into his creative personality. His epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, 1774) and other early works made him a leading figure in the new Sturm und Drang movement. A visit to Italy in 1786 confirmed his humanistic ideal during this period, Iphigenie in Tauris (1787) being its most mature expression.
Among Goethe’s later works, the verse drama Faust (Part One 1808, Part Two 1832), the novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, 1795–96) and the autobiography Poetry and Truth (Dichtung ind Wahrheit, 1811–33), besides numerous short poems, are the best known.
Author portrait: Goethe in the Roman Campagna Roman (1786) by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein