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Italy in the German Literary Imagination


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Italy has long exerted a particular fascination on the Germans, and this has been reflected in German literature, most prominently in Goethe's Italienische Reise but also by numerous other writers who have returned to the topic. This book is concerned with two inextricably linked images - those of the German traveler in Italy and of Italy in German literature in the first third of the 19th century. Goethe's publication of his account nearly three decades after his actual journey was in some measure a vehicle to resist the challenge of a new generation of writers, who in turn would confront what they found to be a questionable, if not altogether false, representation. Hachmeister emphasizes the consequences of the disparity between the reality of Goethe's journey and his depiction of it, taking into consideration also his occasional discomfort with Italy's classical past. She shows how the German predilection for Italy is unique in the larger European cultural context of the Grand Tour, before moving on to chapters that contain readings of Italienische Reise and Goethe's Römische Elegien. Individual chapters follow on Eichendorff's Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts, Platen's Sonette aus Venedig, and Heine's three Itali>Reisebilder, each of which is to some degree a reaction to Goethe's work. These chapters investigate how the individual's reaction to Italy reflects his view of Germany and the author's role in early 19th-century German society. The conclusion offers a short glance at the continued evolution of the German fascination with Italy in the mid- and late nineteenth century.
Gretchen Hachmeister received her Ph.D. in German literature from Yale University.


...thoroughly researched, precisely documented ... and extremely informative about the four poets' lives and oeuvres.... MONATSHEFTE


First Published: 15 May 2002
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571132260
4 black and white, 1 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 231
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: DSB

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  Goethe: Anticipation, Hesitation, and Preparation for Italy
  • 3  Rewriting the Journey: Goethe Remembers Italy
  • 4  Römische Elegien
  • 5  Eichendorff and the Romantic Return to Italy
  • 6  Platen's Sonette aus Venedig and the Post-Romantic Aestheticization of Italy
  • 7  Subverting Tradition: Heine and the German Myth of Italy
  • 8  Conclusion
  • 9  Appendix: Sonette aus Venedig -- Comparison of Editions
  • 10  Works Cited
  • 11  Index