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German History in Documents and Images
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Loreley Rock at St. Goarshausen on the Rhine (19th Century)
The legendary figure of the Loreley became part of German folklore in the nineteenth century. In a ballad included in his novel Godwi (1800-01), the Romantic poet Clemens Brentano (1778-1842) first told the story of a beautiful girl who sits on a slate rock in the Rhine River, luring charmed and careless boatmen to their destruction; to escape from her curse, she plunges to her death in the Rhine. In his Book of Songs (1827), Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) popularized the tale, which went on to become inextricably linked with the “German” Rhine. The painting below depicts the Rhine in the diffuse light of a rising sun. Signal fires have been placed around the dangerous section of rock. Painting by unknown artist, nineteenth century.