Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ferdinand Freiligrath's Library

Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810 - 1874) was not only a popular poet but also very important as the translator of British poetry and songs. I would not say that he is completely forgotten today but one gets the impression that his big role in 19th century German cultural life is somewhat overlooked a little bit even though it seems at the moment as if a kind of rediscovery is on the way. 

What is rarely discussed today is that he was an immensely influential mediator of English and Scottish literature in Germany. His numerous translations were widely read and often set to music. He for example wrote adaptations of some of Robert Burns' songs. His translation of "My Heart's in the Highlands" - "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" - was supplied by German composers with numerous new tunes and became one of the most popular songs of the 19th and early 20th century. 

Freiligrath had an impressive library both of German and British literature which unfortunately was auctioned after his death. At the Internet Archive I found the catalog of his collection as it was published by the bookseller from Stuttgart who arranged the auction: 
  • Verzeichniss der von Ferdinand Freiligrath nachgelassenen Bibliothek, besonders reichhaltig in der deutschen und englischen classischen Literatur, welche am Dienstag den 18. Juni 1878 und an den folgenden Tagen, Vormittags 8-12 und Nachmittags 3-5 Uhr, durch Oskar Gerschel's Antiquariats-Buchhandlung (Stuttgart, Schloss-Strasse 37) zu Cannstatt in der Wohnung des Dichters; Gasthof zum alten Hasen, an der Neckarbrücke, versteigert wird, Stuttgart 1878 (available at the Internet Archive)

It is really worth reading simply to see what a great amount of English and Scottish publications he had acquired during his lifetime and one may say that it was a great shame that this astonishing collection was sold and scattered.


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