Visiting Walhalla

Posted on 19th February 2021 by simonbeattie

Yesterday, the ABA’s virtual book fair Firsts Online opened. The first day went quite well, and I sold a number of things, so I have just uploaded a few new items, among them this:

Published in Munich in 1845, it’s a copy of the first edition in English of Walhalla’s Genossen (1842; second edition, 1847), dedicated by the translator to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, son of Ludwig I.  ‘The following Volume is the Translation of a Work written by His Majesty, the King of Bavaria, with the view of elucidating the lives and peculiar merits of the great men who have been thought worthy of a place in Walhalla.  In performing this undertaking, the translator thinks he has made what will be considered by the English visiting Bavaria, an agreeable offering’ (Translator’s Preface). 

This copy was presented by Everill to Edward Sherratt Cole (1817–1905), a painter who ‘travelled in Europe, visiting Brittany, the Tyrol, Antwerp, the rivers Mosel, Meuse and Rhine and the lakes of northern Italy.  His depictions of the monuments, houses and streets of the towns he visited are highly detailed.  He exhibited in London at the Royal Academy between 1837 and 1868’ (Benezit).

Opened in 1842, Walhalla, which contains memorials to notable Germans from history, is one of the most idiosyncratic expressions of national identity in nineteenth-century Europe—a temple to German-ness, modelled on the Parthenon, built on a spectacular site high above a secluded stretch of the Danube east of Regensburg, ‘where the Holy Roman Empire had held its parliaments, convening notables from the whole of Germany and beyond.  Walhalla was to be a different kind of German Parliament.  The Holy Roman Emperor had summoned delegates: King Ludwig now summoned the spirits of great Germans from the past in one stupendous assembly of achievement’ (MacGregor, p. 156).

For a full account of Walhalla, including its subsequent history (plaques and busts are still added today), see Neil MacGregor, Germany: Memories of a Nation (2014), ch. 9. Alternatively, you can listen to his podcast here.

I hope you have a chance to visit the fair.
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