A History- 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition
Author’s Preface (1981)
I am nae Poet, in a sense, But just a Rhymer like by chance, An hae to Learning nae pretence, Yet, what the matter? Whene’er my Muse does on me glance, I jingle at her. Your Critic-folk may cock their nose, And say, ‘How can you e’er propose, ‘You wha ken hardly verse frae prose, ‘To mak a sang?’ But by your leaves, my learned foes, Ye’re maybe wrang. I have found the German “Critic-folk” often “wrang” in their estimation of Burns and more than likely to “cock their nose” at the poetry of a man more at home in Scottish rhythms than in classical scansion. I have traced the course of his German reception, both by the “Critic-folk” and the general reading public, and have explored ways in which German expectations, British attitudes and the work of translation have affected that reception. It has been an absorbing and instructive task, and has provided me with as many fresh insights into German language and literature as into English and Scottish. I have also discovered for myself the poetry of Pierre Jean de Béranger and Sándor Petöfi in the course of my work on Burns. My thanks go particularly to my first German teacher, Frau Friedel Nutto von Stetten, and to my university teachers and tutors: to Professor Elizabeth Wilkinson, Dr. Geoffrey Butler, Professor Eberhard Lämmert, Professor Gert Kaiser, Professor Peter Michelsen, Professor Horst Meller, Dr. Klaus Weimann. I am also grateful to the fellow-students who...
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