A History- 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition
3 Review and Perspectives
3.1 “Original criticism has been rare” What is it about Burns and his work that has engaged and fascinated his German audience and given rise to a rich and varied reception history? Returning to this question first asked in the Introduction, we can approach an answer by way of a recent article on Burns’s reception in Hungary, where he has also been widely appreciated and frequently translated. Writing for the periodical Studies in Scot- tish Literature, László Marx contends:627 There is no doubt that the prevailing social, historical and cultural circumstances have had a significant and positive effect on Burns’s reception in Hungary. Howev- er, the prime causes for his great popularity here lie in the Hungarian readers’ re- sponse to what they consider his emotional and artistic make-up. Without equating Hungarian and German “social, historical and cultural circum- stances”, a very similar statement could apply to Burns’s German reception. What has counted most has been the “readers’ response”, and that – note the qualifying phrase here – is a response to “what they consider his emotional and artistic make-up.” From the first the general and popular reception of Burns has made use of the image of an uneducated but inspired peasant poet couching his personal experiences in lively verses. And for all the criticism and correction this image has encountered, it has never faded completely and is perenially pol- ished into fresh radiance. It persists because it is popular, and because still after nearly 200 years since the poet’s...
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