small is beautiful: a free man in paris

It was a time when Paris was a city for the young. Students, painters, intellectuals, journalists, grisettes: all were there along with a young German poet who recorded a period of creative ferment between one revolution and the next. ….

It was the springtime of French romanticism. Paris had welcomed the ” le celebre autuer allemand, docteur Heine” with open arms when he arrived from Germany in May, 1831. It could be said that rarely have a city and writer been so destined for each other.”if anyone asks you how I am tell him ‘like a fish in water,’ or rather, tell people that when one fish in the sea asks another how he is, he receives the reply: ‘I am like Heine in Paris.’” .This time the revolution had not been followed by scenes of terror and the thump of the noble head landing in the bottom of a hand-woven basket. Instead Heine found a city made for young poets.

Horace Vernet. 1832. ---What particularly roused his indignation, was the disparity between rich and poor in English society. In London, a city where money means everything, this struck him particularly during his three-month trip to England in 1827; ``Here hunger drives poverty out of the dark alley, into the daylight. With mute, imploring eyes,'' he writes in the Englischen Fragmenten (English Fragments), ``a ragged woman looks up at a rich merchant, who jingles his keys officiously and hastens on his way; or the idle Lord, like a sated God, prances about on his high steed, now and then throws a haughty, indifferent glance upon the teeming masses below, as if they were insignificant ants, or perhaps merely a bunch of lowly creatures, whose joys and sorrows have nothing in common with his feelings, since above this earth-bound human rabble, England's nobility hover as creatures of a higher species, who look at little England only as a place to put up for the night, Italy as their summer garden, Paris as their social club, and yes, the entire world, as their property.'' ---Read More: image:


Heine  featured  in multiple ways in the development of Liberalism, Socialism, and Communism. Interestingly, he was friends with Marx and a visitor at the Rothschilds. He could see that both currents, were espousing a form of “virtual goods” ; a ceding of the messiness of a physical economy towards a world of theory, finance and economics. The future was ideas, entertainment and consumption. …Were the Rothschilds pacifists, pillars of conservative monarchies, or, as the poet Heinrich Heine wrote, agents of a new revolutionary force, money? Chameleon-like, the Rothschilds were all–and none–of these things. For them, it was just business.( Niall Ferguson )

He was a glowing supporter of the utopian socialism of Saint-Simon. He hoped for the overcoming of class society through an enlightened philanthropist, a kind king or one of the Rothschilds, not through a mass insurrection. In the last years of his life, largely cut off from the world, suffering the tortures of a terrible illness amidst his “burial mattresses”, he no longer succeeded, despite his deep friendship with Marx, in understanding the modern workers’ movement and scientific socialism. He feared the intervention of the masses in history – which he himself had experienced more in the form of the anti-Semitic mob – more than he longed for it.Read More:

The complex struggles of his mind have also occupied theologians, who follow with fascination his path from Hegelian atheism, through adoration of the Greek gods, to a return to the God of the Old Testament. With spinechilling prescience, he foresaw the birth of Nazism out of the spirit of Romanticism. The Romantic nostalgia for ancient Teutonic myths and the folklore of cruelty and evil as typified by the Brothers Grimm was destined, Heine predicted, to release the dark, aggressive, cataclysmic forces in the German people.

“Christianity,” he wrote, “and this is its greatest merit, subdued to a certain extent the brutal German belligerence, but it could not entirely quench it; and when the taming talisman, the cross, falls to pieces, then will break forth again the ferocity of the old combatants… There will be played in Germany a drama compared to which the French revolution will seem but an innocent idyll…Take heed, then! Ye have more to fear from a freed Germany than from the entire Holy Alliance with all the Croats and Cossacks.” Read More:

Heine had arrived in Paris with a brooding pain of considerable intensity. He was still in the throes of an unrequited passion for his blonde, flirtatious cousin Amalie, daughter of the Hamburg banker Salomon Heine. Although he was only thirty-three at the time, he had already been a literary celebrity for several years due to his poems Die Lorelei. He had mixed feelings about this fame which resulted in a streak of sarcasm in his prose which had cost him much of the good-will he had gained with his poetry. In the eyes of the authorities, Heine, the poet-prodigy was an enfant-terrible or even a dangerous radical whose work would bear watching.

---Perhaps the sharpest critic of the Young Germans was a fellow journalist, Wolfgang Menzel, who, both out of personal quarrels, anti-Semitism, and ideological differences, led a campaign to ban the works of the Young Germany school. His critique of Heine's influence on German literature, published in 1859, after Heine's death, shows clearly some of the harsh accusations which he heaped upon Heine and the Young Germans: In spite of his obvious and intentionally displayed worthlessness, Heine was practically deified in Germany, and he gathered under his dirty banner a whole swarm of imitators. These people called themselves 'Young Germany.' When one thinks back

he image of German youth as we recognize it in Siegfried, one sees here the nauseating opposite. The physiognomy of Young Germany was that of a Jewish boy, coming out of Paris clothed after the latest fashion, but totally blasé, unnerved by sloppiness, and with a specific musky, garlic-like odor.---Read More: image:


He had obtained his doctorate of law in 1825, and at the same time had decided to convert from Judaism to Christianity. This was necessary because of the severe restrictions on Jews in the German states; in many cases, they were forbidden, without specific permission, to have their own businesses or to leave the areas in which they were assigned to live. Understandably, then, as Heine himself said, his conversion was “the ticket of admission into European culture.”  He continued to publish, writing both poems and novels, but he met increasing resistance, both from members of the Romantic school, who criticized his writing as too harsh and cynical, and from the Poetic Realism school, who objected to his sarcasm and to what they considered obscenity (i.e., sensuality) in his works. He contemplated moving to another country in order to write more successfully, but none was particularly appealing to him. In 1830, when he heard the news of the July Revolution, he was overjoyed; he truly believed in the cause of the revolution, and thought that it would succeed. At the same time, seeing the newfound liberty in France made Heine sadly aware of the oppressive conditions in his homeland; he realized, however, that the German people simply did not have the strength or the impetus to accomplish such an action themselves, and that maybe they never would. Read More:

Heine had the disconcerting habit , of thinking aloud without reflection on who was listening. It was a provocative habit that nearly landed him in prison but brought him to Paris instead. He was to spend the rest of his life there as a displaced poet, exiled from his public and his mother tongue.

The intellectual monde of Paris in 1831 was more than usually young, ardent and articulate. The preliminary skirmishes of romanticism had been fought and won. In every sphere of art there was an air of great expectations. Victor Hugo, whose long haired supporters had routed the clean shaven followers of classicism at the battle of “Hernani” a year earlier, had just completed his first novel, Notre Dame de Paris. Hector Berlioz had just dinned the Symphonie Fantastique into Parisian ears as a signal that a revolution was impending in the concert hall. A determinedly independent woman writer, George Sand, had recently made her literary debut in Le Figaro.

Vue de la Seine prise du Louvre - Auteur NICOLLE Victor-Jean (1754-1826). Peinture Hauteur 0,508m Largeur : 0,394m . Exposée au musée Carnavalet (Paris) Read More:

Among the established writers, Stendhal, “the first modern man” had just published his The Red and the Black. Delacroix was emerging as the most gifted young painter, Dumas as the most exciting playwright and Balzac was just beginning his Human Comedy and was considered the most panoramic of novelists. Alfred de Musset, Gerard de Nerval,and Alfred de Vigny were experimenting with new forms and rhythms in poetry, much as the two expatriate pianists, Chopin and Liszt, were inventing a new range of images for the keyboard.


Nancy Thuleen: In Germany, as throughout Europe, the effect of this revolution was strong and immediate. The German states, while still not truly united, were in effect led by the two kingdoms surrounding them, Austria and Prussia. Austria in particular possessed an exceptionally reactionary government which was still responding with fierce absolutism and repression to the threat caused by Napoleon; Prussia, too, although seen as reformist, enforced strict measures of censorship and control over its inhabitants. The people, however, or at least the bourgeois and the lower classes, welcomed the July Revolution as a hopeful sign. In addition to a positive social reaction, there were literary and political effects as well: as elsewhere in Europe, a republican movement arose, consisting mainly of younger writers born after 1800, who advocated using the French system as a model for the rebuilding of their own, and who were in favor of destroying the ancien régime of German feudalism. …Read More: a

Amalia Keller. Heine. 1842. ---Yigal Lossin:Scholars continue to have a hard time explaining how the author of The Rabbi of Bacherach, in which the Torah is described as “the book which God wrote with his holy hand,” could state elsewhere that Judaism is not a religion but a “misfortune,” an “incurable malady,” an “insanity,” or a “long lost cause.” Why in the first two chapters of his book does Heine eulogize the Orthodox rabbi of Bacherach, and in the third present us with a Jewish convert who claims that Judaism is too gloomy for his taste, and he therefore prefers the joyful pagan cult of Astarte? And how is it that the poet of “Sabbath Princess,” praising the traditional Jewish lifestyle, concludes another of his “Hebrew Melodies,” “The Disputation,” with the statement that both the rabbi and the priest “stink”? Many consider this a case of Jewish self-hate, while others see here a love-hate relationship, and still others have attributed it to Heine’s mischievous, unpredictable personality and his tendency to build up in order to tear down, to caress and then to bite. Read More:

…Modeling themselves on similar groups in other European nations, such as Giuseppi Mazzini’s Young Italy, this group of authors, most of whom were journalists or beginning novelists, began to call themselves ‘Young Germany’. The title came from the dedication of a book by one of their leading authors, Ludwig Wienbarg, in which he writes: “To you, young Germany, I dedicate this work, not to the old.”  These authors were strongly attracted to the ideals of the July Revolution and to the philosophy of Saint-Simon, one of the liberal thinkers in France at the time; Saint-Simonism advocated, among other social goals, the liberation of women and the emancipation of the senses, in addition to encouraging republican and democratic sentiments. The Young Germans also felt that the time had come for politically active literature, as opposed to the classical and romantic conception of literature as divorced from politics; advocating the example of France, Karl Gutzkow wrote in 1832:

There are people in Prussia who are ashamed to say the word Constitution, and they are not even the worst ones! In France, politics and the struggling of the parties hold together all areas of the writing and thinking spirit …. The necessity of the politicalization of our literature is undeniable!

Although most of these authors did not promote open revolution against their governments, they were nonetheless seen as dangerous by the political leaders, as well as by the more conservative members of the newly-formed Poetic Realism and Biedermeier schools, who preferred stately, serene, and controlled literature, not the often shocking and wild imagery of the Young Germans.Read More:

“It was Heinrich Heine who gave me the most perfect idea of what a lyrical poet could be,” wrote Nietzsche. “In vain do I search through all the kingdoms of antiquity or of modern times for anything to resemble his sweet and passionate music.” No volume of poetry in the German language has ever been bought, read, or sung more than Heine’s Buch der Lieder (Book of Songs, 1827). It has been set to music by the finest composers, among them Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and even the young Wagner. As of 1994, 4,579 different melodies had been written for the Book of Songs alone, and for his poetry as a whole some ten thousand musical compositions can be counted, a record for any work of world literature save the Bible. He was for the 19th century what Voltaire was for the 18th, the most sharp-witted writer in Europe. He was a satirist who fought fearlessly against the tyranny and follies of the regimes of the Age of Reaction and the Holy Alliance, and paid dearly for it by being ostracized and exiled. Indeed, he spent his last twenty-five years, nearly half his life, in political exile in Paris, where he was hounded by Prussian agents, surrounded by Austrian spies, and threatened with prison should he ever set foot
on German soil. In admiration for his Romantic poetry and satirical wit, his French hosts dubbed him the Voltaire au Clair de Lune. For the English, he was the “Bard of Democracy,” the German poet second only to Goethe. He has been the subject of more English-language books, dissertations, and biographies than any other German writer, including Goethe.Read More:

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