German literature

German authors
  • Angelus Silesius
  • Heinrich Böll
  • Bertolt Brecht
  • Karl Georg Büchner
  • Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Günter Grass
  • Brothers Grimm
  • Hans von Grimmelshausen
  • Peter Handke
  • Gerhart Hauptmann
  • Heinrich Heine
  • Heinrich der Glïchezäre
  • Johann Gottfried von Herder
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
  • Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Uwe Johnson
  • Siegfried Lenz
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
  • Thomas Mann
  • Robert Musil
  • Novalis
  • Jean Paul Richter
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
  • Friedrich von Schiller
  • Arthur Schnitzler
  • Georg Trakl
  • Frank Wedekind
  • Christa Wolf

Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856

Heine was one of the greatest poets of the German language. He was born in Düsseldorf in the midst of a Jewish family and studied at schools in that city until the age of 18 years. He then went on to study Law in Bonn and in Göttingen, but was disillusioned by the city's pedantic mood and moved to Berlin, where he met the writer Chamisso and philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, and also made friends with many other German romantics.

Soon afterwards, he took up his Law studies again, although he had to convert to Christianity in order to be able to practice as a lawyer (Jews were prohibited from practicing Law in Germany at that point in time). However, in the end he never did practice Law.

Some time later he published The Harz Journey (1826), a story about an excursion through the Harz mountains, a piece of writing that brought him immediate success. A year later he edited The Book of Songs, a compilation of poems that were later put to music by various different composers, one of them which was Franz Schubert.

Between 1827 and 1831, Heine travelled around England, Italy and Germany, trips which ended with the publication of a poetry book in three volumes, Pictures of Travel (1826-1831), besides many prose writings where he showed his sympathy for the democratic ideas that had guided the French Revolution.

He became a permanent member of the literary group Junges Deutschland (Young Germany), from which he flung tirades against the romantic movement for having succumbed to the monarchial and ecclesiastical power. This caused his presence in Germany to be somewhat uncomfortable and consequently he decided to move to France, specifically Paris, where he spent the last 25 years of his life.

In Paris, Heine wrote for various German newspapers as well as striking up friendships with Karl Marx, Balzac, George Sand, Berlioz and Chopin. He married a French sales assistant and in 1845 was diagnosed with a disease in his spinal column that confined him to his bed. This state proved to be good for his literature, as he created many of his best writings during this time: History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany (1835), The Rabbi of Bacharach (1840), Heinrich Heine on Ludwig Börne (1840), Atta Troll (1843) and the satire Germany, a Winter's Tale (1844), as well as the book of poetry Romanzero (1851).