“The Harz Journey”: Travelogue as Philosophical Satire
“‘The Harz Journey’: Travelogue as Philosophical Satire” offers an analysis of one of the best known stories of Heine’s Reisebilder (Travel Pictures) as a cross-generic work that mediates between travelogue, critical reflection, poetry, song, and fable. “Die Harz Journey” (“Die Harzreise”) shows how Heine’s method, while steeped in the ambivalence of satirizing Romanticism yet assuming to be its last heir, is profoundly critical, because it is systematically self-reflexive, as Heine views the subject of his writing from a distance which allows him to reassess his own position. I compare the wittily philosophical frame of this unusual travelogue to Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the carnivalesque, which translates the realm of abstract thought to concretely sensuous images and diverse and dynamic events. A further comparison is with the work of Jorge Luis Borges, who like Heine, delighted in an admixture of the real, the imaginary, and the arabesque.