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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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5 “Our toils obscure”: The Parritch and the Partridge, 2013


5.1 The Whys and the Wherefores In preparation for the celebration for the 250th birthday of Robert Burns in 2009, academics from all over Europe gathered to discuss the reception of Burns in Europe, with a view to prepare a volume for the Reception of British Authors series, due out in 2014. I researched the reception history of Burns in Germany and German-speaking regions, and I soon came across the two core studies that deal with the topic: Hans Jürg Kupper’s Robert Burns im deutschen Sprachraum (1979), and Rosemary Anne Selle’s The Parritch and the Partridge. I soon found that Selle’s book was a very thorough and detailed study of all the im- portant elements in the reception history of Burns, and I felt very humble in view of the trumendous effort she had put into unearthing and collecting even the most obscure translations of single Burns poems. Today, with the internet at our fingertips and companies like GoogleBooks providing access to a wealth of digitised books from all over the world, we forget what it was like before com- puters became a part of our lives. Back then, first-hand research on translations would entail digging through piles of magazines, anthologies, periodicals, letters and diaries, copying relevant texts and passages by hand, indexing the finds as best as possible; it would also mean visiting libraries and archives in hopes of unearthing anything of interest, or launching requests for inter-library loans vir- tually into the unknown. Interpreting the finds would...

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