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Heinrich Heine: Atta Troll und Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen

I. Censorship
  • Bundestag Decree 1835
    • Heine's affiliation with Young Germans
    • Julius Campe: led Hamburg publishing house of Hoffmann and Campe, 1823-1867
  • What did Heine do about censorship?
    • published in France or in long books
    • self-censorship (Gedankenzensur)

II. Production
  • Heine's difficult position: hated by all sides
  • He wanted prove that political Engagement and aesthetic form could exist together
  • Atta Troll: first appeared 1843 in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, ed. H. Laube
  • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen published by Campe, Feb. 1844
    • 1847: Atta Troll revised and republished together with Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen

II. Reception
  • Mostly negative during his life, because of political bias
  • After failed revolutions of 1848:
    • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen seen as the work of a "Franzosenfreund"
    • Atta Troll regarded as a return to the Romantic poetry of Heine's youth
  • Strongly negative by 1900, called him a "traitor," also antisemitic
  • Recent scholarship very positive, but tends to overlook some weaknesses
    • Both poems must be considered together for a true understanding

IV. Political Moments in the Texts
  • Atta Troll
    • criticism directed at the utopian opposition, especially the Tendenzpoesie
    • the figure of Atta Troll: a "conglomerate of Heine's antipathies" (Sammons)
      • Atta's "engagement" is undermined by his ridiculousness
    • Tendenzpoesie subordinates aesthetics and literature to political agitation.
      • For Heine, poetry must be autonomous, subject only to itself.
      • "ein zweckloses Lied"? -- it is autonomous: not subjugated to political slogans
        • only in this form can he present the ideal freedom
  • Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen.
    • Models in other political poetry of the time:
      • Anastasius Grün: Spaziergänge eines Wiener Poeten (1830-32)
      • Franz Dingelstedt: Lieder eines kosmopolitischen Nachtwächters (1841)
    • text presents a new offensive, but not a new belief
      • a late version of Saint-Simonism and/or Marxism
    • criticism is directed at the Restoration (e.g. border crossing, Kölner Dom)
    • Barbarossa scene
      • Barbarossa as the "Anwalt des Volkes" -- a positive center to the myth
      • Disillusionment with the legend; Barbarossa ineffective, nostalgic
      • Rejection of Barbarossa; German people will have to free themselves
      • Appears to take back this rejection, but just another veiled criticism
        • even a medieval empire would be preferable to the fake modern conditions
    • Chamber-pot scene
      • there will be a bloody but necessary revolution
    • Negative ending: no party could fulfill Heine's ideal dream

Selected References:

Baumann, Günter. Poesie und Revolution: Zum Verhältnis von Kunst und Politik im Werk Heinrich Heines. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1982.
Brummack, Jürgen, ed. Heinrich Heine: Epoche - Werk - Wirkung. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1980.
Grab, Walter. Heinrich Heine als politischer Dichter. Heidelberg: Quelle und Meyer, 1982.
Sammons, Jeffrey L. "Hunting Bears and Trapping Wolves: Atta Troll and Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen." Heinrich Heine: Artistik und Engagement. Ed. Wolfgang Kuttenkeuler. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1977.
Ziegler, Edda. Literarische Zensur in Deutschland, 1819-1848. Munich, Vienna: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1983.

Written and © Nancy Thuleen in 1995 for German 704 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If needed, cite using something like the following:
Thuleen, Nancy. "Heinrich Heine: Atta Troll und Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen." Website Article. 28 November 1995. <http://www.nthuleen.com/papers/704Heine.html>.