The Exile as Cultural Translator
This chapter discusses Heine’s role as a “translator” of the French to Germany in his journalistic reports in Conditions in France and as an interpreter of German literature and philosophy to the French in The Romantic School and The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany. Conditions in France is a remarkably innovative example of literary journalism. In the last two essays, Heine delivers for his French audience simultaneously critical and entertaining lectures on German intellectual history, which make no concessions in terms of substance and rigor. As Heine translates these important pages of German culture, he also redresses, in a dialogic mode, what he saw as the blind spot of Romantic idealism in Germany. The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany bears witness to Heine’s profound understanding of German idealistic philosophy and his ability to present it in a stunningly clear fashion.