Farewell to the Horse

By Ulrich Raulf

Horses and humans share an ancient, profoundly complex relationship. Once our most indispensable companions, horses were for millennia essential in helping build our cities, farms, and industries. But during the twentieth century, in an increasingly mechanized society, they began to disappear from human history. In this esoteric and rich tribute, award-winning historian Ulrich Raulf chronicles the dramatic story of this most spectacular creature, thoroughly examining how they’ve been muses and brothers in arms, neglected and sacrificed in war yet memorialized in paintings, sculpture, and novels―and ultimately marginalized on racetracks and in pony clubs. Elegiac and absorbing, Farewell to the Horse paints a stunning panorama of a world shaped by hooves, and the imprint left on humankind. He declares that horses are now in “semi-retirement” with a “part-time job as a recreational item, a mode of therapy, a status symbol, and a source of pastoral support for female puberty”.

Ulrich Raulf (born 1950 in Hülseberg, Westfalen) is a German cultural scientist and journalist. He studied English, philosophy and history at Marburg University in October 1977. He became a habilitation at the Humboldt University of Berlin in 1995 in cultural studies. Since 1994 he was feuilleton-editor for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, since 1997 head of department and from 2001 a senior editor with the features section of the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In 1979, he was one of the founders of the magazine Tumult. He researches and publishes on Marc Bloch, Aby Warburg and the George Circle. Raulf is a member of the foundation board of the Stefan George Foundation. He is a member of the PEN Centre Germany and since 2007 the German Academy for Language and Literature in Darmstadt.

For his study circle without a master, in which he studied the history of the George circle after the death of Stefan Georges in 1933, Raulf received the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2010 in the category “Non-fiction and essayistics”. In 1998, he was awarded the Science Prize of the Aby-Warburg Foundation, 2013 with the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize. In 2013, he received the first-class merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.


“A beautiful and thoughtful exploration… Farewell to the Horse is a grown-up, but also lyrical and creative, history book, and I very much enjoyed it.” -James Rebanks, author of the New York Times bestseller The Shepherd’s Life.