In the era of ‘Brexit’, when England seeks to invoke the glory days of Empire in a new politics of insularity, it may have lost some of the appeal it held for continental Europeans in the heyday of the global Empire of the Victorian era. An unknown document of the erstwhile fascination for it is the unpublished travel journal of the young Viennese writer and campaigner Robert Scheu (1873-1964), a citizen of the declining Habsburg Monarchy, who visited London in the summer of 1898 for three months. London was home to his exiled Socialist uncle Andreas Scheu, whose circles included William Morris, George Bernard Shaw, the artist Walter Crane. Robert Scheu’s ‘Englische Reise’ (‘English Journey’) is no linear travel narrative, but a series of personal diary entries, reflecting national and gender stereotypes, and offering a historical snapshot of the Victorian metropolis, and of its surrounding landscape. The young diarist has a vision of the ascendant world empire from its centre, but self-reflection is the crucial existential gain from travel, however short-lived.
Gilbert Carr, an Irish citizen since 2017, was born in London and studied at Durham University, U.K. (1962-1969). Also studied in Würzburg, Germany, and researched in archives in Vienna. Lectured in German language and literature at Trinity College, Dublin (1969-2008), Director of European Studies (1996-1999), Fellowship 1999. Publications on modern German and Austrian culture, esp. Karl Kraus and the Viennese fin de siècle. Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow (Munich and Göttingen); Visiting Lecturer at the University of Essen, Germany. Married to Hilary Carr, who is herself a member of Trinity Retirement Association.
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