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INTRODUCTION

Heine's Buch der Lieder was published in October 1827/ The idea of forming a selection of the best of his youthful poetry is first mooted in a letter to Vamhagen von Ense of October 24, 1826:

"Meine ersten Flegeljahre, das 'Intermezzo,' die 'Heimkehr' und zwei Abtheilungen von Seebildern werden einen schönen Band ausmachen, der Anfang und Ende meines lyrischen Jugendlebens enthält."

He begs Vamhagen to say nothing in the meantime about his intention, in view of possible difficulties with Maurer and Dümmler, the publishers respectively of the Gedichte and the Tragödien nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo. He expects to have many changes to make: "Versteht sich, viele Gedichte werden fortgelassen, viele verändert und viele hinzugefügt."1 In the following month he reveals the project to his friend Friedrich Merckel of Hamburg:

"Einige Freunde dringen darauf, daß ich eine auserlesene Gedichte-Sammlung, chronologisch geordnet und streng gewählt, herausgeben soll, und glauben, daß sie ebenso populär wie die Bürgersche, Goethische, Uhlandsche u.s.w. werden wird." 2

He now anticipates no opposition from Maurer, as he had not received any honorarium for the Gedichte? nor from Dümmler; and any scruples that Campe might have, in view of the recent appearance of the Reisebilder, are to be overcome by conceding the question of a honorarium.4 He hoped that a cheap edition of the poems would add to his popularity.

1 Briefe, in Heinrich's Heine's Gesammelte Werke, ed. by G. Karpeles, viii., Berlin, 1893, p. 508.

2 Ibid. p. 510. * The honorarium amounted to forty-five copies. 4 He subsequently received for the Buch der Lieder one payment of fifty

louis d'or, about £yj.

"Dieses Buch," he adds, "würde mein Hauptbuch sein und ein psychologisches Bild von mir geben—die trüb-ernsten Jugendgedichte, das ' Intermezzo' mit der 'Heimkehr' verbunden, reine blühende Gedichte, z.B. die aus der "Harzreise," und einige neue, und zum Schluß die sämmtlichen kolossalen Epigramme."

In a parenthesis he shows a touch of characteristic pride: "Es war* keine gewöhnliche Gedichtesammlung."1 In the following year, after the Buch der Lieder had appeared, he speaks of it with less enthusiasm. Just as formerly when praising the tragedies he spoke of his earliest poems as being "keinen £chuß Pulver werth" (April 10, 1823),2 so now his interests were turning in a different direction. With the two volumes of the Reisebilder he had tasted for the first time the joys of popularity, if not notoriety, and from the example of Byron he had learned that to shock an audience is sometimes the most effective way to obtain its attention. In the descriptive, witty, polemical prose of the Reisebilder, he had found an extremely congenial expression for his genius, an outlet for his enthusiasms, a scourge for his enemies, and he was sailing forth on a new voyage of feuilletonistic adventure which was to carry him at times far from the quiet of the Muses. It was an important turning-point in his life, and the Buch der Lieder is the legacy, as it is the fitting close, of the lyrical activity of his youth and early manhood. It is simply, he says in a letter (Oct. 19, 1827), "eine tugendhafte Ausgabe meiner Gedichte." He cherishes no great expectations regarding its future: "Es wird wie ein harmloses Kauffahrteischiff, unter dem Schutze des zweiten Reisebilderbandes, ruhig in's Meer der Vergessenheit hinabsegeln."8 But this prophecy, if seriously made, and it may well have been in the circumstances, was not fulfilled. The success of the book was remarkable from the first The Gedichte of Lenau appeared in 1832, those of Eichendorff in 1837 and those of Mörike in 1838, yet none of these collections attracted anything like the same amount of attention. In some respects, both Lenau and Mörike reached lyrical heights unattained by Heine, but neither upon the public nor upon the later lyric have they exercised the same influence as the Buch der Lieder. The latter was more daring and sensational: it charmed while it annoyed. It showed an extraordinary mixture of romantic fancy, tender pathos, reckless wit and biting irony. The boldness of the imagery, the petulant

1 Briefe, p. 511. 3 Ibid. p. 365. 8 Ibid. pp. 526, 528.

changes of mood, the earnestness and the frivolity, the wonderful mastery of word and line aroused curiosity, if not admiration. It was not merely the "cunning art," to use the phrase which George Meredith applied to the book.1 The cunning art was there undoubtedly, but behind it there was, above all, an intense vitality. It was, as it still is, the personality behind the art, that highly-gifted, passionate, petulant, sensual mind in its frank self-revelation, that gripped the heart and held in thrall the understanding, even when taste and feeling bade the reader withhold his sympathy. The first edition was one of five thousand copies. Large new editions were issued in 1837, 1839, 1841 and 1844, each of them revised by the poet. Eight other uncorrected editions appeared during his lifetime, and it has been estimated by a German writer that before 1870 more than two hundred thousand copies of the book had been sold.2 Over the poets of Germany, in particular, Heine has exercised a potent influence. Men so essentially different as Karl Immermann, Ferdinand Freiligrath, Emanuel Geibel, Gottfried Keller, Paul Heyse, Theodor Fontane and Viktor von Scheffel have experienced his influence and paid homage at his shrine, and two of the most effective of modern lyrists, Detlev von Liliencron and Richard Dehmel, reveal developments foreshadowed by Heine in some of the most striking elements of their art. *

I

The Format1ve Influences Of He1ne's Boyhood

The key to Heine's character lies in the story of his life. For his boyhood the fragment of the Memoiren is invaluable, while his correspondence supplies a commentary to the lyrics of much greater importance than has generally been realized. After all, it is only when we study the history of a man, the history of his education and his life, that we are able to grasp some of the principal traits of his character. But it is no mere list of outward events, still less a chronique scandaleuse that is needed. Heine himself points the way when he draws the distinction between an author's life (or what his enemies make of it) and his mental history: "Wie wenig ist oft das

1 Fortnightly Review, 1868, in a review of Lord Lytton's Poems.
2 F. Sintenis, H. Heine. Ein Vortrag, Dorpat, 1877.

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