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Heinrich Heine 1831 by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim.

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a journalist, essayist, literary critic, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. He is remembered chiefly for selections of his lyric poetry, many of which were set to music in the form of lieder (art songs) by German composers, most notably by Robert Schumann. Other composers who have set Heine's works to music include Friedrich Silcher, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Fanny Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, Edward MacDowell, and Richard Wagner; and in the 20th century Hans Werner Henze, Carl Orff, Lord Berners, Paul Lincke and Yehezkel Braun.

Contents

Early life

The Radspielerhaus - Heine's home in Munich from 1827-1828

Heine was born in Düsseldorf, Rhineland, today North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, which was then occupied by France (becoming part of Prussia in 1815), into a family of Jewish background. He was called "Harry" as a child, but after his baptism in 1825 he became "Heinrich".[1]

His father was a merchant, and his mother, the daughter of a physician, was a refined and educated woman. When his father's business failed, Heine was sent to Hamburg. His wealthy banker uncle, Salomon, encouraged him to go into commerce, but his ventures in this sphere were not successful.

Failing in this attempt at business life, Heine took up law, studying at the universities of Göttingen, Bonn and Berlin, where he heard Hegel's lectures on the philosophy of history (he later wrote a short satirical poem about Hegel's philosophy "Doctrine"). During his student years he was a member in the "Verein für Kultur und Wissenschaft des Judentumes" ("Society for the Culture and Scientific Study of Judaism"), founded by his contemporary Leopold Zunz. Heine finished his studies in 1825 with a doctorate in law.

The same year, he converted to Lutheranism. Jews were still subject to severe restrictions in many of the German states at that time. They were forbidden to enter certain professions, including an academic career in the universities, a particular ambition for Heine. As Heine said in self-justification, his conversion was "the ticket of admission into European culture". He wrote, "As Henry IV said, 'Paris is worth a mass'; I say, 'Berlin is worth the sermon'."

As a poet, Heine made his debut with Gedichte (Poems) in 1821. Heine's one-sided infatuation with his cousins Amalie and Therese later inspired him to write some of his loveliest romantic lyrics; Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs, 1827) was Heine's first comprehensive collection of verse.

For example the poem "Allnächtlich im Traume" of the Buch der Lieder was set to music by Robert Schumann as well as Felix Mendelssohn. It contains the specific ironical disillusionment which is indeed typical of Heine:

Young Heinrich Heine
Allnächtlich im Traume seh ich dich,
Und sehe dich freundlich grüßen,
Und lautaufweinend stürz ich mich
Zu deinen süßen Füßen.
Du siehst mich an wehmütiglich,
Und schüttelst das blonde Köpfchen;
Aus deinen Augen schleichen sich
Die Perlentränentröpfchen.
Du sagst mir heimlich ein leises Wort,
Und gibst mir den Strauß von Zypressen.
Ich wache auf, und der Strauß ist fort,
Und das Wort hab ich vergessen.

(non-literal translation in verse by Hal Draper:)

Nightly I see you in dreams-you speak,
With kindliness sincerest,
I throw myself, weeping aloud and weak
At your sweet feet, my dearest.
You look at me with wistful woe,
And shake your golden curls;
And stealing from your eyes there flow
The teardrops like to pearls.
You breathe in my ear a secret word,
A garland of cypress for token.
I wake; it is gone; the dream is blurred,
And forgotten the word that was spoken.

(for a more literal translation in particular to assist singers: [1])

In his 1821 tragedy "Almansor" Heine let the protagonist Almansor decry the burning of a Koran in a public fire in re-conquered Spain. To this Almansor’s servant Hassan replies: "This was a prelude only; where they burn books they will eventually burn people." [2]

Starting from the mid-1820s Heine distanced himself from Romanticism by adding irony, sarcasm and satire into his poetry and making fun of the sentimental-romantic awe of nature and of figures of speech in contemporary poetry and literature. [3] A nice example are these lines:

Das Fräulein stand am Meere
Und seufzte lang und bang.
Es rührte sie so sehre
der Sonnenuntergang.

Mein Fräulein! Sein sie munter,
Das ist ein altes Stück;
Hier vorne geht sie unter
Und kehrt von hinten zurück.

A mistress stood by the sea
sighing long and anxiously.
She was so deeply stirred
By the setting sun

My Fräulein!, be gay,
This is an old play;
ahead of you it sets
And from behind it returns.

Heine 1829

Heine became increasingly critical of despotism and reactionary chauvinism in Germany, of nobility and clerics but also of the narrow-mindedness of ordinary people and of the rising German form of nationalism, especially in contrast to the French and the revolution. Nevertheless, he made a point of stressing his love for his Fatherland:

Plant the black, red, gold banner at the summit of the German idea, make it the standard of free mankind, and I will shed my dear heart’s blood for it. Rest assured, I love the Fatherland just as much as you do.

Heine unconditionally admired Napoleon for his contributions to enlightenment which, for some time, the Frenchman had installed in the occupied German areas. All of Heine’s publications in Germany were subject to state censorship which, in 1827, was a direct target in one of his poems:

The German Censors  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——    Idiots    ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  ——
——  ——  ——  ——  ——

In 1831 Heine left Germany for France, settling in Paris for his remaining 25 years of life. In the same year he wrote the poem "Die Lorelei," the first of what were to be many melancholy reminiscences of his German homeland. It is still one of the most well known poems in the German language. "Die Lorelei" was too popular to ban completely for its Jewish authorship, so the poem was labelled as "written by unknown writer" during the Third Reich.

Paris years

Heinrich Heine 1837

After arriving in Paris, Heine associated with Karl Marx, also living in the city at the time, and he wrote for Marx’s weekly journal Vorwärts and the Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher (German–French Annals). Heine also sympathized with the French Saint-Simonists.

In 1832, Heine published, in French, Towards a history of philosophy and religion in Germany. "Never has a more extraordinary book sailed into the world under a more ordinary and discouraging title; yet for sheer literary panache, for bizarre anecdotes, historical snap–judgements, and sheer intellectual wit and vigour, the book has few equals."[4]

Heine’s further work was heavily inspired by socialist ideas. German authorities banned his works and those of others who were considered to be associated with the 'Young Germany' movement in 1835. Heine, however, continued to comment on German politics and society from a distance.

During his time in Paris Heine only made two visits to Germany where his beloved mother still lived. One of these visits was in winter of 1843 and inspired him for his satirical verse-epic Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (Germany. A Winter's Tale), an account of his journey in which he puts his socialist vision into contrast with the grim conditions in his homeland:

Sie sang das alte Entsagungslied,
Das Eiapopeia vom Himmel,
Womit man einlullt, wenn es greint,
Das Volk, den großen Lümmel.

Ich kenne die Weise, ich kenne den Text,
Ich kenn auch die Herren Verfasser
Ich weiß, sie tranken heimlich Wein
Und predigten öffentlich Wasser.

Ein neues Lied, ein besseres Lied
O Freunde, will ich euch dichten!
Wir wollen hier auf Erden schon
Das Himmelreich errichten.

Wir wollen auf Erden glücklich sein,
Und wollen nicht mehr darben;
Verschlemmen soll nicht der faule Bauch
Was fleißige Hände erwarben.

She sang the old song of self-denial,
The halleluiah from heaven,
With which to lull, when complaining,
The big boor, the people.
I know the tune, I know the words,
I also know the authors.
I know they secretly drank wine
While publicly preaching water.
A new song, a better song,
O friends, I shall write for you!
Already here on Earth we shall
Erect a heavenly realm.
It is on earth that we strive to be happy
And we don’t want to suffer from want any more;
The rotten belly shall not feed
On the fruits of hard working hands.

The Winter's Tale was also published in the Vorwärts (Forward) in 1844

Title page of the Vorwärts with Heine’s Weberlied, 1844

Heine became very critical of the working classes social conditions resulting from the industrial revolution. After the bloody suppression of the weaver’s revolt in Silesia he wrote the poem ‘’’Weaver’s Song’’’ (Weberlied or Die Weber). Many of Heine’s poems appeared in Marx’s journals which were illegally distributed in Germany. The Weaver’s Song was explicitly banned in Germany. Friedrich Engels translated it into English and had it published in the “The New Moral World”. In spite of his friendship to Marx and Engels Heine also expressed worries about Communism. Its radicalism and materialism would destroy much of European culture that he loved and admired. In the French edition of “Lutetia” Heine wrote, one year before he died: “This confession, that the future belongs to the Communists, I made with an undertone of the greatest fear and sorrow and, oh!, this undertone by no means is a mask! Indeed, with fear and terror I imagine the time, when those dark iconoclasts come to power: with their raw fists they will batter all marble images of my beloved world of art, they will ruin all those fantastic anecdotes that the poets loved so much, they will chop down my Laurel forests and plant potatoes and, oh!, the herbs chandler will use my Book of Songs to make bags for coffee and snuff for the old women of the future – oh!, I can foresee all this and I feel deeply sorry thinking of this decline threatening my poetry and the old world order - And yet, I freely confess, the same thoughts have a magical appeal upon my soul which I cannot resist …. In my chest there are two voices in their favour which cannot be silenced …. because the first one is that of logic … and as I cannot object to the premise “that all people have the right to eat”, I must defer to all the conclusions….The second of the two compelling voices, of which I am talking, is even more powerful than the first, because it is the voice of hatred, the hatred I dedicate to this common enemy that constitutes the most distinctive contrast to communism and that will oppose the angry giant already at the first instance – I am talking about the party of the so-called advocates of nationality in Germany, about those false patriots whose love for the fatherland only exists in the shape of imbecile distaste of foreign countries and neighbouring peoples and who daily pour their bile especially on France”.[5]

Heine also loved to satirize the utopian politics of his fellow opponents of the regime in Germany as in Atta Troll: Ein Sommernachtstraum (Atta Troll: A Midsummer Night's Dream) in 1847. In the preface to Atta Troll he comments on the risk of arrest that he faced during his clandestine return visit to Germany.

Heine wrote movingly of the experience of exile in his poem In der Fremde ("Abroad"):

Ich hatte einst ein schönes Vaterland.
Der Eichenbaum
Wuchs dort so hoch, die Veilchen nickten sanft.
Es war ein Traum.
Das küßte mich auf deutsch, und sprach auf deutsch
(Man glaubt es kaum,
Wie gut es klang) das Wort: »Ich liebe dich!«
Es war ein Traum.
I once had a beautiful fatherland.
The oak
Grew there so high, the violets gently nodded.
It was a dream.
It kissed me in German, it spoke in German
(One can hardly believe it,
It sounded so good) the phrase: "I love you!"
It was a dream.

Death

Heine on his sickbed 1851

Heine suffered from ailments that kept him bedridden for the last eight years of his life (some have suggested he suffered from multiple sclerosis or syphilis, although in 1997 it was confirmed through an analysis of the poet's hair that he had suffered from chronic lead poisoning). He was survived by his wife whom he had met and married in Paris. There were no children.

On 17 February 1856, at the age of 58, Heine died in Paris. He was interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre. His last words were:

"God will forgive me. It's his job."[6][7]

Legacy

"The highest conception of the lyric poet was given to me by Heinrich Heine. I seek in vain in all the realms of millenia for an equally sweet and passionate music. He possessed that divine malice without which I cannot imagine perfection... And how he employs German! It will one day be said that Heine and I have been by far the first artists of the German language." - Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo[8]

Among the thousands of books burned on Berlin's Opernplatz in 1933, following the Nazi raid on the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, were works by Heinrich Heine. To commemorate the terrible event, one of the most famous lines of Heine's 1821 play "Almansor" was engraved in the ground at the site: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.")

In 1834, 99 years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party seized power in Germany, Heine made another remarkable prophecy in his work "The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany":

"Christianity - and that is its greatest merit - has somewhat mitigated that brutal germanic love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered, the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. This talisman is fragile, and the day will come when it will collapse miserably. Then the ancient stony gods will rise from the forgotten debris and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and finally Thor with his giant hammer will jump up and smash the Gothic cathedrals. (...)
Do not smile at my advice -- the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder is of true Germanic character; it is not very nimble, but rumbles along ponderously. Yet, it will come and when you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the world's history, then you know that the German thunderbolt has fallen at last. At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens. A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll."

Controversy

Statue of Loreley: Heine memorial in the Bronx, New York

In the 1890s, amidst a flowering of affection for Heine leading up to the centennial of his birth, plans were enacted to honor Heine with a memorial; these were strongly supported by Heine's admirer Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria. The empress commissioned a statue from the sculptor Louis Hasselriis. Another memorial, a sculpted fountain, was created for Düsseldorf. While at first the plan met with enthusiasm, the concept was gradually bogged down in anti-Semitic, nationalist, and religious criticism; by the time the fountain was finished, there was no place to put it. Through the intervention of German American activists, the memorial was ultimately transplanted into The Bronx. Known in English as the Lorelei Fountain, Germans refer to it as the Heinrich Heine Memorial.[9] Also, after years of controversy, the University of Düsseldorf was named Heinrich Heine University. Today the city honours its poet with a boulevard (Heinrich-Heine-Allee) and a modern monument. The Heine statue, originally located in Corfu, was rejected by Hamburg, but eventually found a home in Toulon.[10]

In Israel, the attitude to Heine has long been the subject of debate between secularists, who number him among the most prominent figures of Jewish history, and the religious who consider his conversion to Christianity to be an unforgivable act of betrayal. Due to such debates, the city of Tel-Aviv delayed naming a street for Heine, and the street finally chosen to bear his name is located in a rather desolate industrial zone rather than in the vicinity of Tel-Aviv University, suggested by some public figures as the appropriate location.

Ha'ir (a left-leaning Tel-Aviv magazine) sarcastically suggested that "The Exiling of Heine Street" symbolically re-enacted the course of Heine's own life. Since then, a street in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem and a community center in Haifa have been named after Heine. A Heine Appreciation Society is active in Israel, led by prominent political figures from both the left and right camps. His quote about burning books is prominently displayed in the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. (It is also displayed in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum).

Selected works

  • Auf Flügeln des Gesanges
  • Gedichte, 1821
  • Tragödien, nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo, 1823
  • Reisebilder, 1826-31 (Travel Pictures, 2008. Translated by Peter Wortsman (Archipelago Books).)
  • Die Harzreise, 1826
  • Ideen, das Buch le Grand, 1827
  • Englische Fragmente, 1827
  • Buch der Lieder, 1827
  • Zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Religion in Deutschland, 1832
  • Französische Zustände, 1833
  • Zur Geschichte der neueren schönen Literatur in Deutschland, 1833
  • Die romantische Schule, 1836
  • Der Salon, 1836-40
  • Die Lorelei, 1838
  • Ludwig Börne: Eine Denkschrift, 1840
  • Neue Gedichte (Big Rudy), 1844 - New Poems
  • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen, 1844 - Germany
  • Atta Troll. Ein Sommernachtstraum, 1847
  • Romanzero, 1851
  • Der Doktor Faust, 1851
  • Les Dieux en Exil, 1853
  • Die Harzreise, 1853
  • Lutezia, 1854
  • Vermischte Schriften, 1854
  • Letzte Gedichte und Gedanken, 1869
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1887-90 (7 Vols.)
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1910-20
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1925-30
  • Werke und Briefe, 1961-64
  • Sämtliche Schriften, 1968

Editions in English

  • The Complete Poems of Heinrich Heine: A Modern English Version by Hal Draper, Suhrkamp/Insel Publishers Boston, 1982. ISBN 3-518-03048-5

See also

Heine’s play William Ratcliff was used for the libretti of operas by César Cui (William Ratcliff) and Pietro Mascagni (Guglielmo Ratcliff). Frank van der Stucken ((1858-1929)) composed a Symphonic prologue to Heine's William Ratcliffe

References

  1. ^ "There was an old rumor, propagated particularly by anti-Semites, that Heine's Jewish name was Chaim, but there is no evidence for it." Ludwig Börne: A Memorial, ed. Jeffrey L. Sammons, Camden House, 2006, p. 13 n. 42.
  2. ^ [http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/heine/almansor/almansor.htm Heinrich Heine: Almansor. Tragödie (1821)
  3. ^ Neue Gedichte (New Poems), citing: DHA, Vol. 2, p. 15
  4. ^ Joseph Peter Stern, Re–interpretations: Seven Studies in Nineteenth–Century German Literature, Basic Books, New York, 1964 ISBN 0-521-28366-3
  5. ^ Heine’s draft for Préface in the French edition of Lutezia (1855), DHA, Vol. 13/1, p. 294.
  6. ^ Last words at German Wikipedia (German)
  7. ^ Last words
  8. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, A Nietzsche Reader, Translated by R.J. Hollingdale, (Penguin 1977), page 147
  9. ^ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/27/realestate/27scap.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Sturm und Drang Over a Memorial to Heinrich Heine. The New York Times, 27 May 2007.
  10. ^ Richard S. Levy, Heine Monument Controversy, in Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p.295

External links

In English

In German


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Where they burn books, they will also burn people.

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797February 17, 1856) was a journalist, an essayist, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. Jewish by birth, he converted to Christianity as an adult.

Contents

Sourced

Out of my own great woe
I make my little songs.
I cannot explain the sadness
That's fallen on my breast.
An old, old fable haunts me,
And will not let me rest.
  • Out of my own great woe
    I make my little songs.
    • Aus Meinen Grossen Schmerzen (Out of My Great Woe), st. 1
  • Ich weiss nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
    Dass ich so traurig bin;
    Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
    Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
    • I cannot explain the sadness
      That's fallen on my breast.
      An old, old fable haunts me,
      And will not let me rest.
      • Die Lorelei, st. 1
  • Du bist wie eine Blume,
    So hold und schön und rein;
    Ich schau dich an, und Wehmut
    Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein.
    • You're lovely as a flower,
      So pure and fair to see;
      I look at you, and sadness
      Comes stealing over me.
      • Du Bist Wie eine Blume, st. 1
At first I was almost about to despair, I thought I never could bear it — but I did I bear it. The question remains: how?
  • At first I was almost about to despair, I thought I never could bear it — but I did I bear it. The question remains: how?
    • An Karl von U.
Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance.
  • Ich hatte einst ein schönes Vaterland.
    Der Eichenbaum
    Wuchs dort so hoch, die Veilchen nickten sanft.
    Es war ein Traum.

    Das küßte mich auf deutsch und sprach auf deutsch
    (Man glaubt es kaum
    Wie gut es klang) das Wort: "Ich liebe dich!"
    Es war ein Traum.

    • I had once a beautiful fatherland.
      The oak tree
      Grew so high there, violets nodded softly.
      It was a dream.

      It kissed me in German and spoke in German
      (You would hardly believe
      How good it sounded) the words: "I love you!"
      It was a dream.

      • In Der Fremde (In a Foreign Land)
  • Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
    • Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people.
      • Almansor: A Tragedy (1823)
    • Variant translations:
    • Where they burn books, they will also burn people.
    • It is there, where they burn books, that eventually they burn people.
    • Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.
    • Where they burn books, they also burn people.
    • Them that begin by burning books, end by burning men.
  • Every woman is the gift of a world to me.
    • Ideas: The Book Le Grand (1826)
He who will establish himself on a certain height must yield according to circumstances, like the weather-cock on a church-spire, which, though it be made of iron, would soon be broken by the storm-wind if it remained obstinately immovable, and did not understand the noble art of turning to every wind.
  • Don't send a poet to London.
    • English Fragments (1828), Ch. 2 : London
People in those old times had convictions; we moderns only have opinions. And it needs more than a mere opinion to erect a Gothic cathedral.
  • He who will establish himself on a certain height must yield according to circumstances, like the weather-cock on a church-spire, which, though it be made of iron, would soon be broken by the storm-wind if it remained obstinately immovable, and did not understand the noble art of turning to every wind. But a great man will never so far contradict his own feelings as to see, or, it may be, increase, with cold-blooded indifference, the misfortunes of his fellow country-men.
    • English Fragments (1828), Ch. 11 : The Emancipation
    • Variant: The weather-cock on the church spire, though made of iron, would soon be broken by the storm-wind if it did not understand the noble art of turning to every wind.
Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the ancient animal symbols of St. John will seem like cooing doves and cupids in comparison.
  • Christianity is an idea, and as such is indestructible and immortal, like every idea.
    • History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, Vol. I (1834)
  • Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance.
    • History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany, Vol. III (1834)
Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but less by assimilation than by friction.
  • People in those old times had convictions; we moderns only have opinions. And it needs more than a mere opinion to erect a Gothic cathedral.
    • Französische Bühne (The French Stage), ch. 9 (1837)
  • If one has no heart, one cannot write for the masses.
    • Letter to Julius Campe (March 18, 1840)
What! Think you that my flashes show me
Only in lightnings to excel?
Believe me, friends, you do not know me,
For I can thunder quite as well.
  • Wild, dark times are rumbling toward us, and the prophet who wishes to write a new apocalypse will have to invent entirely new beasts, and beasts so terrible that the ancient animal symbols of St. John will seem like cooing doves and cupids in comparison.
    • Lutetia; or, Paris. From the Augsberg Gazette, 12, VII (1842)
  • The future smells of Russian leather, of blood, of godlessness and of much whipping. I advise our grandchildren to come into the world with very thick skin on their backs.
    • Lutetia; or, Paris. From the Augsberg Gazette, 12, VII (1842)
  • No talent, but a character.
    • Atta Troll, ch. 24 (1843)
  • Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid.
    • Of Savoye, appointed ambassador to Frankfurt by Lamartine (1848); as quoted in Insults : A Practical Anthology of Scathing Remarks and Acid Portraits (1941) by Max John Herzberg, p. 74
  • One should forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged.
    • Statement of 1848, as quoted in The Cynic's Lexicon : A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984) by Jonathon Green, p. 91
    • One must forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged.
      • As quoted in A Mania for Sentences (1985) by Dennis Joseph Enright, p. 10
  • So we keep asking, over and over,
    Until a handful of earth
    Stops our mouths —
    But is that an answer?
    • Lazarus, I (1854)
  • Rossini! divino Maestro!
    • Rossini, divine master.
      • Heinrich Heine's Pictures of Travel (1855) as translated by Charles Godfrey Leland, p. 270
  • Bien sûr, il me pardonnera; c'est son métier. [Of course he [God] will forgive me; that’s his job.]
    • Death-bed joke (1856), attributed as last words; quoted in French in The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious (1905) by Sigmund Freud, as translated by Joyce Crick (2003).
    • Quoted as “Gott wird mir verzeihen, das ist sein Beruf.” in Letzte Worte auf dem Totenbett. Quelle: Alfred Meißner: "Heinrich Heine. Erinnerungen" (1856), Kapitel 5
    • Variant translation: Why, of course, he will forgive me; that's his business.
  • If the Romans had been obliged to learn Latin, they would never have found time to conquer the world.
    • As quoted in The Medical Record No. 674 (6 October 1883); also in And I Quote : The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker (1992) by Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans and Andrew Frothingham, p. 447
  • Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but less by assimilation than by friction.
    • As quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 6
  • My songs, they say, are poisoned.
    How else, love, could it be?
    Thou hast, with deadly magic,
    Poured poison into me.
    • Lyrical Intermezzo, 57; in Poems of Heinrich Heine: Three Hundred and Twenty-five Poems (1917) Selected and translated by Louis Untermeyer, p. 73
Experience is a good school. But the fees are high.
  • Oh what lies there are in kisses!
    And their guile so well prepared!
    Sweet the snaring is; but this is
    Sweeter still, to be ensnared.
    • The Home-coming, Poem 74; also in Poems of Heinrich Heine: Three Hundred and Twenty-five Poems (1917) Selected and translated by Louis Untermeyer, p. 134
  • What! Think you that my flashes show me
    Only in lightnings to excel?
    Believe me, friends, you do not know me,
    For I can thunder quite as well.
    • Wartet nur! [Only Wait!] in Poems for the Times ; also in Poems of Heinrich Heine: Three Hundred and Twenty-five Poems (1917) Selected and translated by Louis Untermeyer, p. 262
When words leave off, music begins.
  • Oaks shall be rent; the Word shall shatter —
    Yea, on that fiery day, the Crown,
    Even the palace walls shall totter,
    And domes and spires come crashing down.
    • Wartet nur! [Only Wait!] in Poems for the Times ; also in Poems of Heinrich Heine: Three Hundred and Twenty-five Poems (1917) Selected and translated by Louis Untermeyer, p. 263
  • Experience is a good school. But the fees are high.
    • As quoted in The Modern Handbook of Humor (1967) by Ralph Louis Woods, p. 493
  • When words leave off, music begins.
    • As quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 343
  • The music at a wedding procession always reminds me of the music of soldiers going into battle.
    • As quoted in The Cynic's Lexicon : A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984) by Jonathon Green
    • Variant translation: The Wedding March always reminds me of the music played when soldiers go into battle.
      • As quoted in The Routledge Dictionary of Quotations (1987) by Robert Andrews, p. 281
  • Whatever tears one may shed, in the end one always blows one's nose.
    • As quoted in The Routledge Dictionary of Quotations (1987) by Robert Andrews, p. 60
  • The fundamental evil of the world arose from the fact that the good Lord has not created money enough.
    • As quoted in The Pillars of Economic Understanding : Factors and Markets (2000) by Mark Perlman and Charles Robert McCann
  • There are more fools in the world than there are people.
    • As quoted in One Big Fib : The Incredible Story of the Fraudulent First International Bank of Grenada (2003) by Owen Platt, p. 37

Misattributed

  • Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.

Quotes about Heine

  • Heine says that a true autobiography is almost an impossibility, and that man is bound to lie about himself.
    • Dostoevsky in Notes from the Underground (1864); this has led to the statement "True autobiography is almost an impossibility" being quoted as a direct quote of Heine.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HEINRICH HEINE (1797-1856), German poet and journalist, was born at Dusseldorf, of Jewish parents, on the 13th of December 1797. His father, after various vicissitudes in business, had finally settled in Dusseldorf, and his mother, who possessed much energy of character, was the daughter of a physician of the same place. Heinrich (or, more exactly, Harry) was the eldest of four children, and received his education, first in private schools, then in the Lyceum of his native town; although not an especially apt or diligent pupil, he acquired a knowledge of French and English, as well as some tincture of the classics and Hebrew. His early years coincided with the most brilliant period of Napoleon's career, and the boundless veneration which he is never tired of expressing for the emperor throughout his writings shows that his true schoolmasters were rather the drummers and troopers of a victorious army than the masters of the Lyceum. By freeing the Jews from many of the political disabilities under which they had hitherto suffered, Napoleon became, it may be noted, the object of particular enthusiasm in the circles amidst which Heine grew up. When he left school in 1815, an attempt was made to engage him in business in Frankfort, but without success. In the following year his uncle, Solomon Heine, a wealthy banker in Hamburg, took him into his office. A passion for his cousin Amalie Heine seems to have made the young man more contented with his lot in Hamburg, and his success was such that his uncle decided to set him up in business for himself. This, however, proved too bold a step; in a very few months the firm of "Harry Heine & Co." was insolvent. His uncle now generously provided him with money to enable him to study at a university, with the view to entering the legal profession, and in the spring of 1819 Heine became a student of the university of Bonn. During his stay there he devoted himself rather to the study of literature and history than to that of law; amongst his teachers A. W. von Schlegel, who took a kindly interest in Heine's poetic essays, exerted the most lasting influence on him. In the autumn of 1820 Heine left Bonn for Göttingen, where he proposed to devote himself more assiduously to professional studies, but in February of the following year he challenged to a pistol duel a fellow-student who had insulted him, and was,' in consequence, rusticated for six months. The pedantic atmosphere of the university of Göttingen was, however, little to his taste; the news of his cousin's marriage unsettled him still more; and he was glad of the opportunity to seek distraction in Berlin.

In the Prussian capital a new world opened up to him; a very different life from that of Göttingen was stirring in the new university there, and Heine, like all his contemporaries, sat at the feet of Hegel and imbibed from him, doubtless, those views which in later years made the poet the apostle of an outlook upon life more modern than that of his romantic predecessors.

Heine was also fortunate in having access to the chief literary circles of the capital; he was on terms of intimacy with Varnhagen von Ense and his wife, the celebrated Rahel, at whose house he frequently met such men as the Humboldts, Hegel himself and Schleiermacher; he made the acquaintance of leading men of letters like Fouque and Chamisso, and was on a still more familiar footing with the most distinguished of his co-religionists in Berlin. Under such favourable circumstances his own gifts were soon displayed. He contributed poems to the Berliner Gesellschafter, many of which were subsequently incorporated in the Buch der Lieder, and in December 1821 a little volume came from the press entitled Gedichte, his first avowed act of authorship. He was also employed at this time as correspondent of a Rhenish newspaper, as well as in completing his tragedies Almansor and William Ratelif, which were published in 1823 with small success. In that same year Heine, not in the most hopeful spirits, returned to his family, who had meanwhile moved to Luneburg. He had plans of settling in Paris, but as he was still dependent on his uncle, the latter's consent had to be obtained. As was to be expected, Solomon Heine did not favour the new plan, but promised to continue his support on the condition that Harry completed his course of legal study. He sent the young student for a six weeks' holiday at Cuxhaven, which opened the poet's eyes to the wonders of the sea; and three weeks spent subsequently at his uncle's county seat near Hamburg were sufficient to awaken a new passion in Heine's breast - this time for Amalie's sister, Therese. In January 1824 Heine returned to Göttingen, where, with the exception of a visit to Berlin and the excursion to the Hartz mountains in the autumn of 1824, which is immortalized in the first volume of the Reisebilder, he remained until his graduation in the summer of the following year. It was on the latter of these journeys that he had the interview with Goethe which was so amusingly described by him in later years. A few weeks before obtaining his degree, he took a step which he had long meditated; he formally embraced Christianity. This "act of apostasy," which has been dwelt upon at unnecessary length both by Heine's enemies and admirers, was actuated wholly by practical considerations, and did not arise from any wish on the poet's part to deny his race. The summer months which followed his examination Heine spent by his beloved sea in the island of Norderney, his uncle having again generously supplied the means for this purpose. The question of his future now became pressing, and for a time he seriously considered the plan of settling as a solicitor in Hamburg, a plan which was associated in his mind with the hope of marrying his cousin Therese. Meanwhile he had made arrangements for the publication of the Reisebilder, the first volume of which, Die Harzreise, appeared in May 1826. The success of the book was instantaneous. Its lyric outbursts and flashes of wit; its rapid changes from grave to gay; its flexibility of thought and style, came as a revelation to a generation which had grown weary of the lumbering literary methods of the later Romanticists.

In the spring of the following year Heine paid a long planned visit to England, where he was deeply impressed by the free and vigorous public life, by the size and bustle of London; above all, he was filled with admiration for Canning, whose policy had realized many a dream of the young German idealists of that age. But the picture had also its reverse; the sordidly commercial spirit of English life, and brutal egotism of the ordinary Englishman, grated on Heine's sensitive nature; he missed the finer literary and artistic tastes of the continent and was repelled by the austerity of English religious sentiment and observance. Unfortunately the latter aspects of English life left a deeper mark on his memory than the bright side. In October Baron Cotta, the well-known publisher, offered Heine - the second volume of whose Reisebilder and the Buch der Lieder had meanwhile appeared and won him fresh laurels - the joint-editorship of the Neue allgemeine politische Annalen. He gladly accepted the offer and betook himself to Munich. Heine did his best to adapt himself and his political opinions to the new surroundings, in the hope of coming in for a share of the good things which Ludwig I. of Bavaria was so generously distributing among artists and men of letters. But the stings of the Reisebilder were not so easily forgotten; the clerical party in particular did not leave him long in peace. In July 1828, the professorship on which he had set his hopes being still not forthcoming, he left Munich for Italy, where he remained until the following November, a holiday which provided material for the third and part of the fourth volumes of the Reisebilder. A blow more serious than the Bavarian king's refusal to establish him in Munich awaited him on his return to Germany - the death of his father. In the beginning of 1829 Heine took up his abode in Berlin, where he resumed old acquaintanceships; in summer he was again at the sea, and in autumn he returned to the city he now loathed above all others, Hamburg, where he virtually remained until May 1831. These years were not a happy period of the poet's life; his efforts to obtain a position, apart from that which he owed to his literary work, met with rebuffs on every side; his relations with his uncle were unsatisfactory and disturbed by constant friction, and for a time he was even seriously ill. His only consolation in these months of discontent was the completion and publication of the Reisebilder. When in 1830 the news of the July Revolution in the streets of Paris reached him, Heine hailed it as the beginning of a new era of freedom, and his thoughts reverted once more to his early plan of settling in Paris. All through the following winter the plan ripened, and in May 1831 he finally said farewell to his native land.

Heine's first impressions of the "New Jerusalem of Liberalism" were jubilantly favourable; Paris, he proclaimed, was the capital of the civilized world, to be a citizen of Paris the highest of honours. He was soon on friendly terms with many of the notabilities of the capital, and there was every prospect of a congenial and lucrative journalistic activity as correspondent for German newspapers. Two series of his articles were subsequently collected and published under the titles Franzosische Zusteinde (1832) and Lutezia (written 1840-1843, published in the Vermischte Schriften, 1854). In December 1835, however, the German Bund, incited by W. Menzel's attacks on "Young Germany," issued its notorious decree, forbidding the publication of any writings by the members of that coterie; the name of Heine, who had been stigmatized as the leader of the movement headed the list. This was the beginning of a series of literary feuds in which Heine was, from now on, involved; but a more serious and immediate effect of the decree was to curtail considerably his sources of income. His uncle, it is true, had allowed him 4000 francs a year when he settled in Paris, but at this moment he was not on the best of terms with his Hamburg relatives. Under these circumstances he was induced to take a step which his fellow-countrymen have found it hard to forgive; he applied to the French government for support from a secret fund formed for the benefit of "political refugees" who were willing to place themselves at the service of France. From 1836 or 1837 until the Revolution of 1848 Heine was in receipt of 4800 francs annually from this source.

In October 1834 Heine made the acquaintance of a young Frenchwoman, Eugenie Mirat, a saleswoman in a boot-shop in Paris, and before long had fallen passionately in love with her. Although ill-educated, vain and extravagant, she inspired the poet with a deep and lasting affection, and in 1841, on the eve of a duel in which he had become involved, he made her his wife. "Mathilde," as Heine called her, was not the comrade to help the poet in days of adversity, or to raise him to better things, but, in spite of passing storms, he seems to have been happy with her, and she nursed him faithfully in his last illness. Her death occurred in 1883. His relations with Mathilde undoubtedly helped to weaken his ties with Germany; and notwithstanding the affection he professed to cherish for his native land, he only revisited it twice, in the autumn of 1843 and the summer of 1847. In 1845 appeared the first unmistakable signs of the terrible spinal disease, which, for eight years, from the spring of 1848 till his death, condemned him to a "mattress grave." These years of suffering - suffering which left his intellect as clear and vivacious as ever - seem to have effected what might be called a spiritual purification in Heine's nature, and to have brought out all the good sides of his character, whereas adversity in earlier years only intensified his cynicism. The lyrics of the Romanzero (1851) and the collection of Neueste Gedichte (1853-18J4) surpass in imaginative depth and sincerity of purpose the poetry of the Buck der Lieder. Most wonderful of all are the poems inspired by Heine's strange mystic passion for the lady he called Die Mouche, a countrywoman of his own - her real name was Elise von Krienitz, but she had written in French under the nom de plume of Camille Selden - who helped to brighten the last months of the poet's life. He died on the 17th of February 1856, and lies buried in the cemetery of Montmartre.

Besides the purely journalistic work of Heine's Paris years, to which reference has already been made, he published a collection of more serious prose writings under the title Der Salon (1833-1839). In this collection will be found, besides papers on French art and the French stage, the essays "Zur Geschichte der Religion and Philosophie in Deutschland," which he had written for the Revue des deux mondes. Here, too, are the more characteristic productions of Heine's genius, Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski, Der Rabbi von Bacherach and Florentinische Ndchte. Die romantische Schule (1836), with its unpardonable personal attack on the elder Schlegel, is a less creditable essay in literary criticism. In 1839 appeared Shakespeares Mddchen and Frauen, which, however, was merely the text to a series of illustrations; and in 1840, the witty and trenchant satire on a writer, who, in spite of many personal disagreements, had been Heine's fellow-fighter in the liberal cause, Ludwig Borne. Of Heine's poetical work in these years, his most important publications were, besides the Romanzero, the two admirable satires, Deutschland, ein Wintermdrehen (1844), the result of his visit to Germany, and Atta Troll, ein Sornmernachtstraum (1876), an attack on the political Tendenzliteratur of the 'forties.

In the case of no other of the greater German poets is it so hard to arrive at a final judgment as in that of Heinrich Heine. In his Buck der Lieder he unquestionably struck a new lyric note, not merely for Germany but for Europe. No singer before him had been so daring in the use of nature-symbolism as he, none had given such concrete and plastic expression to the spiritual forces of heart and soul; in this respect Heine was clearly the descendant of the Hebrew poets of the Old Testament. At times, it is true, his imagery is exaggerated to the degree of absurdity, but it exercised, none the less, a fascination over his generation. Heine combined with a spiritual delicacy, a fineness of perception, that firm hold on reality which is so essential to the satirist. His lyric appealed with particular force to foreign peoples, who had little understanding for the intangible, undefinable spirituality which the German people regard as an indispensable element in their national lyric poetry. Thus his fame has always stood higher in England and France than in Germany itself, where his lyric method, his self-consciousness, his cynicism in season and out of season, were little in harmony with the literary traditions. As far, indeed, as the development of the German lyric is concerned, Heine's influence has been of questionable value. But he introduced at least one new and refreshing element into German poetry with his lyrics of the North Sea; no other German poet has felt and expressed so well as Heine the charm of sea and coast.

As a prose writer, Heine's merits were very great. His work was, in the main, journalism, but it was journalism of a high order, and, after all, the best literature of the "Young German" school to which he belonged was of this character. Heine's light fancy, his agile intellect, his straightforward, clear style stood him here in excellent stead. The prose writings of his French period mark, together with Borne's Briefe aus Paris, the beginning of a new era in German journalism and a healthy revolt against the unwieldly prose of the Romantic period. Above all things, Heine was great as a wit and a satirist. His lyric may not be able to assert itself beside that of the very greatest German singers, but as a satirist he had powers of the highest order. He combined the holy zeal and passionate earnestness of the "soldier of humanity" with the withering scorn and ineradicable sense of justice common to the leaders of the Jewish race. It was Heine's real mission to be a reformer, to restore with instruments of war rather than of peace "the interrupted order of the world." The more's the pity that his magnificent Aristophanic genius should have had so little room for its exercise, and have been frittered away in the petty squabbles of an exiled journalist.

The first collected edition of Heine's works was edited by A. Strodtmann in 21 vols. (1861-1866), the best critical edition is the Sdmtliche Werke, edited by E. Elster (7 vols., 1887-1890). Heine has been more translated into other tongues than any other German writer of his time. Mention may here be made of the French translation of his Ouvres completes (14 vols., 1852-1868), and the English translation (by C. G. Leland and others) recently completed, The Works of Heinrich Heine (13 vols., 1892-1905). For biography and criticism see the following works: A. Strodtmann, Heines Leben and Werke (3rd ed., 1884); H. Hueffer, Aus dem Leben H. Heines (1878); and by the same author, H. Heine: Gesammelte Aufsdtze (1906); G. Karpeles, H. Heine and seine Zeitgenossen (1888), and by the same author, H. Heine: aus seinem Leben and aus seiner Zeit (1900); W. Bolsche, H. Heine: Versuch einer dsthetischkritischen Analyse seiner Werke and seiner Weltanschauung (1888); G. Brandes, Det unge Tyskland (1890; Eng. trans., 1905). An English biography by W. Stigand, Life, Works and Opinions of Heinrich Heine, appeared in 1875, but it has little value; there is also a short life by W. Sharp (1888). The essays on Heine by George Eliot and Matthew Arnold are well known. The best French contributions to Heine criticism are J. Legras, H. Heine, poete (1897), and H. Lichtenberger, H. Heine, penseur (1905). See also L.P. Betz, Heine in Frankreich (1895). (J. W. F.; J. G. R.)


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File:Heinrich-heine
Heinrich Heine, 1831

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (born as Harry Heine December 13, 1797–died February 17, 1856) was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century.

Heine was born into an assimilated Jewish family in Düsseldorf, Germany. His father was a tradesman. After his father's business failed, Heine was sent to Hamburg. His uncle in Hamburg was a very successful banker, so Heine started learning his business, but he droped it later on. Then Heine started to study laws at the universities of Göttingen, Bonn and at the Humboldt University of Berlin, but he was more interested in literature than in laws. He took a degree in laws in 1825. At the same time he had decided to convert from Judaism to Protestantism. This was necessary because of the severe restrictions on Jews in the German states. Only Christians were allowed to have certain businesses or to be clerks of the state. Jews were also forbidden to become university professors, which was a particular ambition for Heine. Heine himself said, his conversion was "the ticket of admission into European culture". Heine is best known for his lyric poetry, much of which was set to music by lieder composers, esp. Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann.

His start as poet Heine made with Gedichte ("Poems") in 1821. Heine's one-sided infatuation with his cousins Amalie and Therese later inspired him to write some of his loveliest lyrics; Buch der Lieder ("Book of Songs", 1827) was Heine's first comprehensive collection of verse.

Heine left Germany for Paris, France in 1831. There he associated with utopian socialists. He met people who fellowed Count Saint-Simon, who preached an egalitarian classless society.

He remained in Paris for the rest of his life. His only visit to Germany was in 1843. German authorities banned his works and those of others who were considered to be associated with the Young Germany movement in 1835.

Heine continued to comment on German politics and society from a distance. Heine wrote Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (Germany. A Winter's Tale). In 1844; his friend, Karl Marx, published it in his newspaper Vorwärts ("Forward") in 1844.

One of the books was burned by the Nazis. One of Heine's most famous lines is now: "Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too" (Almansor, 1821).

Some works

  • Gedichte, 1821
  • Tragödien, nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo, 1823
  • Reisebilder, 1826-31
  • Die Harzreise, 1826
  • Ideen, das Buch le Grand, 1827
  • Englische Fragmente, 1827
  • Buch der Lieder, 1827
  • Französische Zustände, 1833
  • Zur Geschichte der neueren schönen Literatur in Deutschland, 1833
  • Die romantische Schule, 1836
  • Der Salon, 1836-40
  • Über Ludwig Börne, 1840
  • Neue Gedichte, 1844 - New Poems
  • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen, 1844 - Germany
  • Atta Troll. Ein Sommernachtstraum, 1847
  • Romanzero, 1851
  • Der Doktor Faust, 1851.
  • Les Dieux en Exil, 1853
  • Die Harzreise, 1853
  • Lutezia, 1854
  • Vermischte Schriften, 1854
  • Letzte Gedichte und Gedanken, 1869
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1887-90 (7 Vols.) (collected works)
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1910-20 (collected works)
  • Sämtliche Werke, 1925-30 (collected works)
  • Werke und Briefe, 1961-64 (works and letters)
  • Sämtliche Schriften, 1968 (all written works)

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