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

A History- 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition


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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4 The Reception of Robert Burns in Germany 1980-2013


4.1 An Overview of Recent Research Developments That neither the Burns canon nor the Burns criticism were comprehensive, and that consequently a “Burns for today” was required were the final results of Rosemary Anne Selle’s 1981 dissertation. She requested a change in the schol- arly as well as in literary approaches to Robert Burns; editors and translators should seek for a more diverse representation of Burns and show the immense variety within the poet’s oeuvre. Thus, a “new Burns” would complement the insufficient and fragmentary picture of the Scottish national poet, particularly in Germany. The illustrated bilingual Robert Burns: Liebe und Freiheit. Gedichte und Lieder (1988) by Rudi Camerer, Rosemary Selle, Horst Meller and Joachim Utz constitutes a notable exception. However, since then, Selle’s plea seems largely to have gone unheard. There are only two recent examples of including often ignored works – such as his satires and prose letters – which are Heiko Postma’s collections Mit Whisky trotzen wir dem Satan (2003) and Auf wildem Pfad durch Fels und Heide (2008). It is but a stepping stone leading into the right direction. Regarding the academic perspective, a noticeable shift in Burns criticism has taken place within the past thirty years. Especially the studies published in the early twenty-first century give evidence of this. They feature a “new Burns” viewed from a transgressive and global perspective. The poet’s transnational influence is no longer evaluated merely on the basis of his talents and works, but also on the grounds of the different forms...

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