Publication Details

Bauer, L. (2014). Towards a new understanding of identity: discourses of belonging in Goethe's Italienische Reise and Heine's Italian Reisebilder. In A. Corkhill and A. Lewis (Eds.), Intercultural Encounters in German Studies (pp. 107-119). St. Ingbert, Germany: Rohrig Universitatsverlag.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9783861105480


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's (1749-1832) account of his travels in Italy, Italienische Reise (1816, 1817, 1829), transformed the image of the South in the German literary imagination of the early nineteenth century. Goethe represented Italy's Arcadian landscape and classical heritage as the source of the German cultural tradition and as essential to Germans' understanding of their own history. Because of its association with Goethe, the journey to Italy was used as a vehicle by a later generation of writers to position themselves in relation to him and also to distance themselves from his influence and challenge his authority. Amongst these writers was Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), who, in his Italian Reisebilder (1829, 1830, 1831) arguably subverts the Goethean experience of Italy most overtly. Goethe's Italienische Reise is Heine's point of departure. He establishes a counter-discourse to Goethe's, through which he proposes a new understanding of belonging within his contemporary Europe that is based on humanist solidarity, not ethnic difference.