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The Parritch and the Partridge: The Reception of Robert Burns in Germany

A History- 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition

Series:

Rosemary Anne Selle

This book sets out to explore the reception of Scotland’s best-loved writer Robert Burns in Germany, beginning with Burns’s contemporaries in a German state and at a time when instant international fame of foreign writers was yet to develop. The author traces Burns’s growing popularity and, for instance, demonstrates how a single line from a foreigner’s poem could become the motto of a generation of German revolutionists. Many of Burns’s well-known poems do not only figure in this first part but are also the subject of specific case studies in the second. Here works such as «Tam O’ Shanter» or «A red, red rose» are analysed in translation through the ages. The author’s comprehensive work is complemented by a short research update on the reception of Burns.

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Introduction and survey of research

Extract

From an article on a Turkish family living and working in the German Federal Republic, 1977:1 “Heimweh hat Saime, solange sie hier ist. Anwesend scheint sie nur physisch zu sein – ihr Herz ist im Hochland, ihr Herz ist nicht hier.” From an article on experimental forms of psychotherapy in the German Fed- eral Republic, 1977:2 So war es auch […] als wir etwas pathetisch Abschied nahmen, uns um die Schultern haltend. Einige heulten. Ich habe heute die idiotische Erinnerung, daß wir dabei das Lagerfeuerlied ‘Auld Lang Syne’ gesungen haben. Die Rührung jedenfalls war groß. From the introduction to a collection of Burns translations published in the German Democratic Republic, 1974:3 “Eines von ihnen [diesen Liedern] floß ein in den Hauptstrom deutscher revolutionär-demokratischer Kultur – ‘Trotz alledem’.” From the sleeve of a record produced in the German Federal Republic, 1978:4 Trotz alle dem und dem und dem […] Es ist ein dialektisches, ein radikales Wort, denn zu einem Zorn, der politisch fruchtbar werden soll, der nicht modisch-müde werden soll, gehört ja grade auch diese große Portion Schmerz, die dem eindimensionalen Idiotenoptimismus fehlt. Trotz alledem. These few examples from recent publications document the fact that Burns and his work are known and drawn on in Germany – and give at the same time a first indication of traditions he is seen to belong to: patriotic poetry, sentimental song, revolutionary rhyme. Many similar instances of knowledge of Burns in Germany initiated an interest in the history of his...

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