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«Poor Green Erin»

German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke

Edited By Eoin Bourke

The area of 19 th -century German travel writing on Ireland has received widespread scholarly attention over the years in treatises in both English and German, but these efforts were directed largely at fellow-scholars and formed part of an academic discourse on travel, interculturality and alterity. This book, on the other hand, is conceived of more as a reader for the general public than as an academic treatise, presents a surprisingly extensive body of comments drawn from German and Austrian sources from between 1783 and 1865 and lets them «talk for themselves». Some of these remarkably empathetic and well-founded eye-witness accounts were translated into English already in the 19 th century by people like Sarah Austin and Sir Lascelles Wraxhall, but the editor has re-translated them to remove varying degrees of antiquatedness of formulation and has added other accounts that were hitherto largely unknown to the non-German-speaking reading public.
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1 Introduction: “The Niobe of Nations” - the early literary manifestations of German awareness of Irish conditions


As can be seen in the list of secondary literature sources at the back of this book, there has been a lively and ongoing discourse on German-Irish literary and cultural relationships both in Irish and foreign academic circles since John Hennig began in the 1940s to research the topic (cf. Hennig 2002). The problem is that with regard to the highly interesting body of German texts on Ireland there have been relatively few breaches of that lamentable barrier between academe and the general reading public. This publication sets out to bridge that gap to some extent by presenting to the general reading public a selection of the primary German travel writings in English translation (garnished with com- mentaries where I found them necessary or helpful). The book, in other words, is conceived of as a reader of 19th-century texts rather than as a theoretical treatise. From 28 German and Austrian authors, all of whom travelled through Ireland between 1783 and 1865 and committed their impressions to paper, I have excerpted what struck me as being the more insightful, informative, pungent, amusing or disturbing passages from their works. I hope that the texts will also provide a source material for historians, in keeping with C.J. Woods’ cogent argument that travel writing can function as such (Woods 2010). As an introduction to the period in question I wish to contextualize the travel writing by offering a brief survey of developments in Germany at that time in the form of a rising awareness...

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