“Sie durchziehen dieses Land in ganzen Schwärmen”: Tourism as a Marker of Modernity in Heine’s Reisebilder

Lukas Bauer


This article positions Heine’s Reisebilder at the beginnings of an intellectual history of critical discourses about tourism. It examines the intersection of this discourse with Heine’s broader critique of capitalism and modernity. I argue that Heine’s appraisal of tourism constitutes part of a larger project to describe economic and cultural transformations in Restoration Europe, driven by early capitalism. Tourism expressed the essential logic of capitalism by emulating patterns of consumption that commoditized culture. Heine makes this attitude towards culture responsible for a break in cultural cohesiveness that in turn constituted the condition of modernity. Heine’s account of these changing travel patterns that signalled the advent of mass tourism offers a complex examination of social transformations in Europe that radically altered the cultural and communal ties between individuals. Traditions that had once formed the basis of identity had become commodities, circulating in a nascent capitalist market place. (LB)

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