The Reception of G. Herwegh’s Personality and Work in Russian Culture: from Revolutionary Pathos to a Scandalous Love Affair


  • Natalia Nikonova
  • Lidia Dmitrieva



This paper offers an overview of the perception of work and the evaluation of the personality of 19th century German poet Georg Herwegh. The research demonstrates that the character of perception is determined by the cultural and historical context in the receiving culture, and it is even more so with political poetry that is based on the rhetoric of spiritual edification. The analysis is made with reference to previously unstudied materials, namely, marks and notes from the archive of V. A. Zhukovsky made on the pages of Herwegh’s most popular book. On the basis of this material the authors conclude that this period was characterised by the initial attempt to represent Herwegh and his poetry within the framework of the history of German literature from its emergence to the mid-19th century. The second period of Russian authors’ reference to his poetry was dominated by the appearance in Russia of the ideological tonality typical of the political poems that won the German poet his fame. The beginning of this period was the post-revolutionary decade of the 1820s. Russian literature specially turned to Herwegh’s legacy, thus marking a new stage of perception by publishing Selected Poems, a new voluminous anthology of translations of his works, as well as a number of literary studies. A new burst of attention began between 2009 and 2013 when numerous articles on the relationship between the Herzens and Herwegh were published. Post-Soviet Russian scholars have examined the controversial personality of the German author through a lens which has brought new traits to the fore: the love triangle between Herwegh and the Herzens which was the main prototype of the conflict in Herzen’s My Past and Thoughts. The paradigmatic shift in the perception of the German poet connected with the change from the textual to the biographic discourse is directly reflected in Russian mass literary culture.


Chamberlayne, P., Bornat, J. & Wengraf, T. (Eds.) (2000). The Turn to Biographical Methods in Social Science. 368 p. London, Routledge.
Dymshits, A. L. (1958). Karl Marks i poet Gerveg [Karl Marx and Poet Herwegh]. In Uchenye zapiski, Vol. 170, pp. 333–350. Leningrad, Leningradsky gosudarstvennyy pedagogichesky institut im. A. I. Gertsena.
Elisarova, M. E. & Kolesnikov, B. I. (1992). Istoriya zarubezhnoy literatury XIX veka [The History of Foreign Literature, 19th Century]. Moscow, Prosveshchenie // Literatura Zapadnoy Evropy 19 veka. URL: (mode of access: 20.04.2015).
Enzensberger, U. (1999). Herwegh. Ein Heldenleben. 394 S. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main.
Gerbel, N. V. (1871). Nemetskie poety v biografiyakh i obraztsakh [German Poets with Biographies and Samples]. Sankt Petersburg, V tipografii V. Bezobrazova i K°.
Herweg, G. (1842). Gedichte eines Lebendigen: Mit einer Dedikation an den Verstorbenen. Vierte Auflage. 168 S. Zürich und Winterthur.
Herweg, G. (1958). Izbrannoe [Selected Poems]. 240 p. Moscow, GIKhL.
Krausnick, M. (1998). Die eiserne Lerche. 206 S. Beltz & Gelberg, Weinheim.
Lobanov, V. V. (1981). Biblioteka V. A. Zhukovskogo: (Opisanie) [The Library of V. A. Zhukovsky: A Description]. 414 p. Tomsk, Izdatel′stvo Tomskogo universiteta.
Mirimsky I. (Ed.) (1948). Nemetskaya poeziya revolyutsii 1848 goda (pp. 10–11) [German Poetry of the Revolution of 1848]. Moscow, Khudozh. lit.
Nikonova, N. & Dmitrieva, L. (2015). Print Media as Socio-Imagological Tools: German world of V. A. Zhukovsky’s “Herald of Europe”. In International Conference on Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences 2014. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 166, pp. 631–634. Tomsk: National Research Tomsk State University Publ.
Paperno, I. A. & Dolbilova, M. (Transl.) (2010). Intimnost′ i istoriya: semeynaya drama
Gertsena v soznanii russkoy intelligentsii (1850–1890-e gody) [Intimacy and History: The Herzen Family Drama in the Understanding of Russian Intelligentsia (1850–1890s)]. In NLO, 103. URL: (mode of access: 10.03.2015).
Podoroga, V. A. (2001). Materialy k psikhobiografii S. M. Eyzenshteyna [Materials to the Psychobiography of S.M. Eisenstein]. In Podoroga, V. A. (Ed.). Avto-biografiya. K voprosu o metode. Tetradi po analiticheskoy antropologii, 1, pp. 11–140. Moscow.
Proshina, L. (n.d.). Iskusiteli : Gertsen – Natasha – Gerveg [Tempters. Herzen – Natasha– Herwegh]. In URL: (mode of access:15.10.2015).
Shirokov, V. A. (2009). Lyubovnaya geometriya Gertsena [Herzen’s Love Geometry]. In Nasha ulitsa, 111 (2). URL: (mode of access: 10.03.2015).
Ter-Minasova, S. G. (2014). The Dialectics of International Communication. In XXV Annual Academic Conference, Language and Culture. Procedia, 154, pp. 8–13. Tomsk, National Research Tomsk State University Publ.
Turaev, S. V. (1959). Tvorchestvo pozdnego Gervega [Herwegh’s Later Writings]. In Voprosy literatury, 10, pp. 169–185.
Turaev, S. V. (1997). Revolyutsiya vo Frantsii i nemetskaya literature [The French Revolution and German Literature]. 214 p. Moscow, Nasledie.



How to Cite

Nikonova, N., & Dmitrieva, L. (2016). The Reception of G. Herwegh’s Personality and Work in Russian Culture: from Revolutionary Pathos to a Scandalous Love Affair. Quaestio Rossica, 4(2), 195–206.



Vox redactoris