Academic journal article German Quarterly

Wales. Die Entdeckung Einer Landschaft Und Eines Volkes Durch Deutsche Reisende (1780-1860)

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Wales. Die Entdeckung Einer Landschaft Und Eines Volkes Durch Deutsche Reisende (1780-1860)

Article excerpt

Maurer, Michael, ed. Wales. Die Entdeckung einer Landschaft und eines Volkes durch deutsche Reisende (1780-1860). Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 2014. 269 pp. euro54.96 (hardcover).

This is the third volume in a series edited by Michael Maurer which has already anthologised travel texts covering England and Scotland during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The current volume on Wales seeks to explore how this Celtic nation came to feature in the European consciousness. This ambitious aim is partially attained through the publication of excerpts from the travelogues of nine German-speaking travellers who, in the course of the late eighteenth or first half of the nineteenth century, visited Wales, either on their way to Ireland or as part of a longer tour of the British Isles. They are Karl Gottlob Kiittner, Christian August Gottlieb Goede, Samuel Heinrich Spiker, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Herman Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, Felix Mendelssohn B artholdy, Johann Georg Kohl, Carl Gustav Cams, and Julius Rodenberg. The travelogues chosen cover the period from 1784 to 1856 and take a number of forms including memoirs, travelogues, letters, and more stylised travel writing.

Maurer's introduction sets the scene for these texts by highlighting the relative lack of knowledge ofWales as an entity, framing the nation as one consigned historically to the margins, only able to define itself quite recently as a result of devolution and what the author terms the "Regionalisierung Großbritanniens." Although it is certainly true that Wales has often found itself defined in terms of its relationship to England, while lacking the profile of Scotland or Ireland, it is difficult to summarise the situation in the way Maurer does here. Issues surrounding the broader profile of Wales and Welsh culture are bound up in the complexities of national identity that feature in debates on so-called "minority" cultures. Maurer's rather bleak appraisal would certainly be challenged by scholars of Welsh culture who have for some time been exploring and fruitfully analyzing the interaction between Wales and mainland Europe at key points including the French Revolution and during the Welsh Revival of the nineteenth century. …

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