Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), one of Germany’s most illustrious poets, is equally well known for his idiosyncratic prose, the vibrant voice of which feels astonishingly modern in its familiar tone and thematic acrobatics. Travel Pictures comprises the accounts of four journeys taken at different times in his life. The first part, “The Harz Journey,” the quirky description of a walking tour in the Harz Mountains, is the text that first made him famous. But in all four accounts, skillfully joined, Heine does more than climb mountains, ford streams, and cross borders. In this remarkable book, seasoned by the skepticism of a born outsider, Heine, a bastard son of the German Romantics (he was the first Jew to proclaim that his fatherland was the German language), propels German letters into the Modern mind-set, lifting the book into the transcendent realm of great journey literature.
Heine possesses 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
This poet was Heinrich Heine, who dominated me longer than any one author that I have known.
— William Dean Howells
Peter Wortsman's new translation of Travel Pictures, Heine's major early work, reveals a mercurial writer with a vitriolic streak, one whose comic voice is equal match to his lyricism.
— Joao Ribas, Review of Contemporary Fiction
Heine's short account of his journey through the Harz Mountains remains today, with Sterne's memories of France and Geothe's record of Italy, the greatest travel writing in literary history. Funny, biting, but always tender, his digressive rendering is inimitably pleasurable. Now Peter Wortsman's new translation brings to the English reader Heine's sumptuous syntax, verbal wit, and stylistic virtuosity.