German-language reception of Robert Burns in Austria

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Austria has its own reception of Robert Burns that is different to the German and Swiss receptions in a number of ways; these have never been discussed in the scholarship on Burns in the German-speaking world. While from around 1840 onwards, a renewed interest in translating Burns in Germany led to book-length collections of his poetry in High German and German dialect translations, the Austrian literary reception of Burns was more modest. This contrasted with the extensive musical reception of Burns in the 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian composers who set High German translations of Burns’ songs to music.
The poetic engagement with Burns in the Austrian Empire was confined to a very small number or poets, one of whom was Franz Stelzhamer, the author of the Upper Austrian regional anthem, ‘Hoamátland’ or ‘‘s Haimátg’sang’, who adapted five High German translations of Burns’ songs, rewriting them in Ob der Enns dialect. However, instead of mediating between the Scottish and Austrian cultures, Stelzhamer assimilated Burns’ songs into collections of his own dialect poetry. Although he attributed them to Burns, he nevertheless domesticated them by inserting Upper-Austrian patriotism and Germanic names, and stripping them of their Scottish cultural context. This chapter looks at the use of Burns in Austrian literature to support regionalism and the folk movement of dialect writing in Austria, and discusses the possible reasons why there was a dearth of translations of Burns’ works in Austria in the nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Reception of Robert Burns in Europe
EditorsMurray Pittock, Elinor Shaffer
Place of PublicationLondon; New York
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780567629197, 9780567170125
ISBN (Print)9781441170316
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2014

Publication series

NameThe Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Robert Burns
  • Austrian literature
  • folksong
  • dialect poetry


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