Das Nibelungenlied

Das Nibelungenlied: Song of the Nibelungs

Translated from the Middle High German by BURTON RAFFEL
Introduction by EDWARD R. HAYMES
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Das Nibelungenlied
    Book Description:

    No poem in German literature is so well known and studied in Germany and Europe as the 800-year-oldDas Nibelungenlied. In the English-speaking world, however, the poem has remained little known, languishing without an adequate translation. This wonderful new translation by eminent translator Burton Raffel brings the epic poem to life in English for the first time, rendering it in verse that does full justice to the original High Middle German. His translation underscores the formal aspects of the poem and preserves its haunting beauty. Often called the Germanlliad,Das Nibelungenliedis a heroic epic both national in character and sweeping in scope. The poem moves inexorably from romance through tragedy to holocaust. It portrays the existential struggles and downfall of an entire people, the Burgundians, in a military conflict with the Huns and their king. In his foreword to the book, Michael Dirda observes that the story "could be easily updated to describe the downfall of a Mafia crime family, something likeThe Godfather, with swords." The tremendous appeal ofDas Nibelungenliedthroughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is reflected in such works as Richard Wagner's opera tetralogyDer Ring des Nibelungen, Fritz Lang's two-part filmDie Nibelungen, and, more recently, J. R. R. Tolkien'sThe Lord of the Rings.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13142-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Michael Dirda

    The great literary works of the Middle Ages—andDas Nibelungenliedis one of the very greatest—are as exciting as they are often desolate and heartbreaking. In stark beauty and sudden violence, the broodingNjal Sagacan be readily likened to a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, on ice.The Song of Roland,especially the last stand of its isolated and betrayed heroes at Roncevaux, perfectly represents W. P. Ker’s classic definition of the heroic epic as “the defense of a narrow place, against odds.” TheNibelungenlieditself could be easily updated to describe the downfall of a Mafia crime...

    (pp. xiii-xxii)
    Edward R. Haymes

    TheNibelungenliedstands at the midpoint between the historical events it reflects and our own time. The earliest events we can associate with the medieval Nibelung legend lie almost eight hundred years before its literary formation in our epic. In the year 436 a Burgundian army of twenty thousand was defeated and destroyed by an army of Huns and Romans somewhere west of the Rhine. Some sources give the names of three kings who died at that time as Gundaharius, Gislaharius, and Godomarus. The first two are clearly recognizable as the Gunther and Giselher of theNibelungenlied.The third name...

    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
    Burton Raffel
    (pp. 1-330)

    1 We know from ancient stories filled with wondrous names

    how heroes fought for glory, won their fight for fame,

    their flowing feasts and pleasures, their tears, their moans, their mourning,

    their noble quarrels and courage, and here once more is more of the same.

    2 In Burgundy there lived an incredibly noble girl,

    more beautiful than any you’ll see here on this earth.

    Her name was Krimhild, born to be someone’s lovely wife.

    And yet, because of her many warriors lost their lives.

    3 She seemed perfectly made for every man to win,

    but though she was rude to...

    (pp. 331-351)