German Travel Writers’ Narratives on Ireland from Before the 1798 Rising to After the Great Famine- Texts Edited, Translated and Annotated by Eoin Bourke
22 Ida von Hahn-Hahn (1846-47)
In the second quarter of the 19th century, Countess Ida von Hahn-Hahn (1805- 1880) was, along with Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, one of the most widely read authors in Germany. This was due in both cases to the huge interest among the German reading public for travel literature – Hahn-Hahn made her name with her Oriental Letters of 1844 – but also due to the fact that both authors imparted a taste of the forbidden fruit to the frequently tight-laced generation of the Biedermeier Period in being surrounded by the scandal of libertinage. Ida was born into a conservative Mecklenburg aristocratic family of the name of Hahn. At the age of 21 she was married off to her cousin Friedrich von Hahn, resulting in the twin double-barrelled name. The marriage of conve- nience lasted only 3 years. The divorce made it possible for her to travel widely in Southern and Northern Europe and the Orient. One year after her divorce she bore a son to Baron Adolf Bystram of Mainz and lived with him until his death in 1848 without ever marrying him, so as to be able to continue to draw her aristocratic divorcee’s pension. In that time she also had an affair with the prominent lawyer and politician Heinrich Simon. Her early novels reflected her then lifestyle in having a distinctly emancipatory thrust, characterized above all by a critique of the institution of marriage. But by the time she came to Britain and Ireland in 1847 she had turned conservative,...
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