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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

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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26 Fanny Lewald (1851-52 in Britain)

Extract

Fanny Lewald (1811-1889) was a very widely read author in the German ter- ritories – her books were among those most frequently borrowed from public lending libraries. There is no evidence that the travel-writer, novelist and campaigner for women’s rights was ever in Ireland, but two short passages from her writings are included here because of the fact that in her correspond- dence with her friend Moritz Hartmann, who wrote to her from Dublin, and in her two-volume Travels through England and Scotland (1851-52) she showed a keen interest in the Irish in Britain. The first passage is important insofar as it reminds us that at the time when she wrote her observation after the Great Famine the majority of Irish lived outside of Ireland, mainly in Britain or North America, often in conditions as dire as those they left behind in Ireland. 26.1 The London Irish The material to write about here [in London] is so plentiful and varied – every day one sees and experiences new things – that next to all the good and pleasant sights the vile ones will inevitably manifest themselves. And so it was when I recently made my way home from the British Museum through an area quite close to it named St. George Bloomfield, where almost exclusively Irish people live in the narrowest, most ruinous laneways imaginable, surrounded by the immense richness of resplendent London. The overcrowding, the filth, the abject poverty in these streets make one’s hair stand on end. Dozens of half-naked children...

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