"When the heroes go off the stage,
the clowns come on."
Heine was born to a Jewish tradesman and
educated at Bonn, Berlin, and Göttingen, from which
he took a degree in 1825. Heine was taught by Hegel in Berlin,
and they both admired Napoleon. His sympathy towards the
French Revolution is evident in his many prose works. Heine
tried to sign up for civil service, which was closed to
Jews at the time, by changing his name to Heinrich and converting
to Protestantism, yet he did not serve. His first published
poem, Gedichte (1821), put him among the young Romantics.
Another successful work came in 1826's Die Harzrreise.
It displayed a wit and grace uncommon to Germany and was
immediately praised. In 1827, he published Buch der Lieder.
Its verses have been set to music by Liszts, Mendelsohnn,
Schubert and Schumann. In 1831 he left Germany for Paris,
because of his political ideas. By this time, he became
the leader of the Junges Deutschland literary movement.
His works criticized the school of German Romanticism for
selling out to the monarchy and the church. He satirized
the reactionary circles in Germany and German nationalism.
His poetry was sympathetic to the working class, which made
him a great poet in the Communist countries. His poetry,
however, remained Romantic in nature.
Die Harzreise [Harz journey] (1826)
Reisebilder [travel pictures] (1827-31)
DEUTCHLAND: EIN WINTERMÄRCHEN (1844),
"Heine, Heinrich," The Columbia
Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia