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
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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