The Rhine: National Tensions, Romantic Visions


Of all European landscapes and regions, the Rhine is one of the most heavily overlaid with cultural and political meaning. Cradle of Romanticism, tourism, and the picturesque, bone of contention between the German and French spheres of cultural and geopolitical influence, the Rhine has attracted armies, artists, activists and tourists for centuries and has featured prominently the key writings of Europe’s literary and intellectual history from Byron to Lucien Febvre. This volume brings together eminent literary and cultural historians to present materials and analyses from various of the central nexus of European culture. The volume also contains a unique and comprehensive anthology of key texts (historical, poetical and polemical) related to the Rhineland and its contested position.

Contributors are: Reinhard Baumann, Manfred Beller, Hans-Werner Breunig, Giovanna Cermelli, Joep Leerssen, Elmar Scheuren, Helmut J. Schneider, and Waldemar Zacharasiewicz.
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Biographical Note

Manfred Beller was Professor of German Language and Literature at the Italian Universities of Pavia, Messina, and Bergamo. He has published widely on German and Comparative Literature in the fields of Thematology and Imagology, including Eingebildete Nationalcharaktere. Vorträge und Aufsätze zur literarischen Imagologie (Göttingen, 2006) and Imagology. The cultural construction and literary representation of national characters. A critical survey, ed. by M. Beller and J. Leerssen (Amsterdam – New York, 2007).

Joep Leerssen is Professor of Modern European Literature at the University of Amsterdam. His work deals with stereotypes of national character ( Imagology, ed. w. Manfred Beller, 2007;, romantic historicism, and the transnational history of cultural nationalism ( National thought in Europe, 3rd ed., Amsterdam, 2010). He is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (; book edn. Amsterdam 2018).

Table of contents

Introduction: The Rhine, Europe’s Frontier, Europe’s Dreamland: Transnational Destination, Inspiration, Disputation

Part 1: Case Studies in Geopolitics, Romanticism and Travel

1 Victor Hugo’s Le Rhin: French National Perspectives on a European River
Manfred Beller
2 The Symbolical and Political Investment of the Rhine: A Dutch Perspective
Joep Leerssen
3 Italian Travellers in the Rhineland in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century
Giovanna Cermelli
4 English Middle-Rhine Tourism in Late-eighteenth and Nineteenth-century Literature
Hans Werner Breunig
5 North American Travellers in the Rhine Valley: Revisions of Their Perspectives on the Landscape and on Sites of Memory in the Contested Region
Waldemar Zacharasiewicz
6 Goethe’s Art Travels in the Rhine Regions 1814–1817 and His Concept of Decentralized Collections
Helmut J. Schneider
7 Restored Future: A Panorama of the Castles, Churches and Monuments on the Confluence of Rhine and Nahe
Manfred Beller
8 The Rhine as a Symbol: Aspects, Meanings and Functionalization of a Memory Landscape
Elmar Scheuren
9 The Walhalla: Bavarian Integration Monument, Germanic Hall of Fame, Expression of European Patronage
Reinhard Baumann

Part 2: A History of Appropriations

10 From the Meuse to the Rhine: A Disputed Region in French and German Atlases and Encyclopaedias
Manfred Beller
11 The Never-ending Stream: Cultural Mobilization over the Rhine
Joep Leerssen
12 Literary Appropriations of the Rhine: A German–French Repertory, 1814–1925


All interested in American and English travel literature, Romantic poetry and painting on the Rhine, historic views of the 19th century German-French controversy.


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