Progress or Preservation: Two German Travel Books About The Faroe Islands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The article focuses on representations of the North Atlantic as a place of transgression, separating continental Europe and the Arctic. Two pieces of German travel writing serve as comparative examples, representing two different discourses, one focusing on progress and making connections, the other focusing on the North as a place of tranquility. Carl Julian Graba (1799-1874), a German lawyer and ornithologist, published a diary from a stay on the Faroe Islands in 1828, Tagebuch, geführt auf einer Reise nach Färö im Jahre 1828. A good century later, in 1938, Erich Wustmann (1907-1994), a German ethnologist, travelled to the Faroe Islands. He published a book, Paradies der Vögel. Im Nordatlantik auf einsamer Insel, in 1949. Both publications link the Faroe Islands to birds, and they share an anachronistic tendency as they do not represent – or are not typical of – the period in which they are written. They rather represent the period preceding their own, the first being rationalistic and focused on progress and enlightenment in the midst of romanticism and the second romantic in the midst of modernism. Most importantly however, they offer two different and still very active discourses on the West Nordic Atlantic Ocean, specifically the Faroe Islands. Key concepts in the article are "sights" (Wustmann) in opposition to "seeing" (Graba) as presented in the book Aesthetics of prose (2008) by Arne Melberg.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepresentations of the West Nordic Isles
Subtitle of host publicationEutiner Forschungen
EditorsJan Borm
Place of PublicationKiel/Hamburg
PublisherWachholtz Verlag
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-3-529-06541-5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Publication series

NameEutiner Forschungen


  • Travel Writing


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