"A concise, fast-paced biography of the German poet, critic, and essayist. . . . A discerning portrait of the writer and his times."-Kirkus Reviews
"Prochnik provides a jaunty narrative of Heine's schooldays in Bonn and Göttingen, journalistic career in Berlin, and twenty-five-year exile in Paris, detailing his literary feuds, scraps with censors, and unwavering belief in political liberty."-New Yorker
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) was a virtuoso German poet, satirist, and visionary humanist whose dynamic life story and strikingly original writing are ripe for rediscovery.
In this vividly imagined exploration of Heine's life and work, George Prochnik contextualizes Heine's biography within the different revolutionary political, literary, and philosophical movements of his age. He also explores the insights Heine offers contemporary readers into issues of social justice, exile, and the role of art in nurturing a more equitable society.
Heine wrote that in his youth he resembled "a large newspaper of which the upper half contained the present, each day with its news and debates, while in the lower half, in a succession of dreams, the poetic past was recorded fantastically like a series of feuilletons."
This book explores the many dualities of Heine's nature, bringing to life a fully dimensional character while also casting into sharp relief the reasons his writing and personal story matter urgently today.