Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry

Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry: The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry
    Book Description:

    Hartmann von Aue (c. 1170-1215) is universally recognized as the first medieval German poet to create world-class literature. He crafted German into a language of refined literary expression that paved the way for writers such as Gottfried von Strassburg, Walther von der Vogelweide, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. This volume presents the English reader for the first time with the complete works of Hartmann in readable, idiomatic English. Hartmann's literary efforts cover all the major genres and themes of medieval courtly literature. His Arthurian romances, Erec and Iwein, which he modeled after Chrétien de Troyes, introduced the Arthurian world to German audiences and set the standard for later German writers. His lyric poetry treats many aspects of courtly love, including fine examples of the crusading song. His dialogue on love delineates the theory of courtly relationships between the sexes and the quandary the lover experiences. His verse novellas Gregorius and Poor Heinrich transcend the world of mere human dimensions and examine the place and duties of the human in the divine scheme of things. Longfellow would later use Poor Heinrich in his Golden Legend. Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry is a major work destined to place Hartmann at the center of medieval courtly literature for English readers.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05524-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    One of the most enduring legacies of the Middle Ages is the storybook world of bold knights and incomparably fair ladies, a world first and best described by the poets of the age. Their greathearted heroes ride off fearlessly in search of adventure and, though severely tried in the process, nevertheless show their mettle and emerge ultimately victorious, whether the enemy be an evil knight, a wild beast, or a monstrous and magical creature. Yet these same knights, who display great virility in such encounters and on the jousting fields at their tournaments, have hearts and minds enthralled by love....

    (pp. 1-28)

    Though a few of Hartmann’s extant lyric poems may have precededThe Lament, scholars agree that it was most likely his first longer work and that it lacks the polish and maturity of his later works. For the modern reader it may prove difficult reading because it is neither narrative nor lyric poetry but belongs, rather, to a genre that has generally gone out of style. It is a dialogue or dispute between the knight’s body and his heart on the nature and practice of courtly love.¹ The origins of courtly love are obscure, but it arrived in Germany by...

    (pp. 29-50)

    Hartmann’s surviving lyric poems, all of which we have translated here, including some of doubtful authorship, treat the themes of what is commonly known as courtly love. The poetry of courtly love is conventional poetry in the sense that in its vocabulary, imagery, and ideas it presupposes a set of meanings and rules which readers must be familiar with if they are to understand what the poet is trying to convey.

    The conventional situation of the poet/speaker of the poem is this: He is a knight at the court of a feudal lord and loves at a distance a lady...

  7. EREC
    (pp. 51-164)

    In the third decade of the twelfth century the Welsh (or possibly, Breton) teacher and poet Geoffrey of Monmouth incorporated his earlierProphetiae Merlini(Prophecies of Merlin) into the expansive, and largely fictional,Historia Regum Britanniae(History of the Kings of Britain). One of the kings Geoffrey wrote about was Arthur, a quasi-historical figure who led the indigenous seventh-century Britons against the invading barbarian Saxons. Much as medieval illustrations provide biblical and classical scenes with a medieval backdrop, so does Geoffrey have Arthur preside over what looks like a twelfth-century court. With the names of Guinevere, Merlin, Caerleon, Mordred, and...

    (pp. 165-214)

    Like the Arthurian epicsErecandIwein, and possibly alsoPoor Heinrich,Gregoriusis modeled after a French prototype. But whereas the literary ancestry of the Arthurian epics is fairly, though not indisputably, clear—Chrétien de Troyes’sErecandYvain ou Chevalier au LionGregoriuscan be likened to a child whose resemblance to its parents is clear, but where because of dissimilarities one suspects that it bears a closer likeness to a vanished generation.

    The Old French archetypeLa Vie du Pape Saint Grégoire—if we judge from its numerous versions and rich manuscript tradition—obviously enjoyed great popularity....

    (pp. 215-234)

    “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Nothing could seem more heroic or more in line with Christian ideals than this. Yet if we apply these words of Jesus spoken to his disciples at the Last Supper toPoor Heinrich, we find that being a Christian martyr may not be so simple and straightforward. Briefly, the situation of the protagonist is this: though he is the embodiment of knightly virtues, Heinrich is stricken with leprosy. He is told that his only chance for a cure would be to...

  10. IWEIN
    (pp. 235-322)

    Hartmann’sIwein, like hisErec, is a translation of a French Arthurian romance, in this caseYvain(about 1177) by Chrétien de Troyes. Hartmann completed hisIwein, apparently the last of his longer works, sometime before 1203. Whether his translation was commissioned by a patron or written on his own initiative we do not know.

    Again likeErec,Iweinis more an adaptation than a translation in the strict sense. It is twenty percent longer thanYvain: Chrétien’s epic totals 6,818 lines; Hartmann’s, 8,166. Hartmann’s intercalations consist largely of conversation and often didactic elaboration and reflection.Iweinfinds Hartmann at...

    (pp. 323-329)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 330-330)