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
HEINRICH HEINE was born in 1797 in the Catholic Rhineland, the poor relation of a wealthy Jewish family. After attending the universities of Bonn, Göttingen and Berlin he was unable to settle to any suitable employment and uneasy under the repressive German political order in the Metternich era; to these years belong four volumes of travel sketches. Attracted by the ideals of the July Revolution, he moved to Paris, where he stayed for the rest of his life, interpreting German life and letters to the French and French politics to the Germans; in Germany his writings were ofﬁcially branded as subversive. The ﬁrst of his collections of verse, Book of Songs (1827), established his reputation as a lyric poet and was to provide a number of composers, notably Schumann, with song-texts. He continued to write almost to the end of his life, when he produced some of his ﬁnest poetry. He died, after eight years of a painful paralytic illness, in 1856.