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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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25 Adolf Helfferich (1851)


Adolf Helfferich (1813-1894) was born in Schaffhausen as the son of a Swabian parson. While studying Humanities in Tübingen he was arrested in 1833 as a member of a student fraternity on the charge of being associated with “an at- tempted uprising which endangered the autonomy of the state”. After spend- ing 3½ years in detention while his case was being investigated, he was sen- tenced to one year imprisonment in the notorious fortress of Hohen-Asperg. After his release he took up work as a teacher in a Frankfurt secondary school, where he was put teaching German to a class of English boarders. In a letter to his mother he wrote: “my most troublesome task is handling the English, of whom there are 12 to 16 in the school. Now I know what makes up the English character. The recipe consists of one-third arrogance, one-third phlegm, one- twelfth brutality, one-sixth madness, one-twelfth spleen. And these chaps are supposed to learn German from me!” The experience might conceivably have predisposed him to a sympathy for the Irish when he travelled later to Britain and Ireland. In a letter dated 15 October 1851 after his return to Berlin he wrote: “To describe the beauty of Scotland, and especially of Ireland, is diffi- cult. Happy England, the world’s foremost people, and yet I do not wish to live there!” (AH 1894, 97). In 1841 he received a doctorate from Tübingen University, after which he worked in Paris as a house tutor...

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