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Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0 3 hardback. German literature - History and criticism.
Johann Gottfried von Herder The temper of the time demanded a concept of German national identity liberated from the tyranny of Rome and Paris, and it demanded a literature that would express this new national self-awareness. After this he turned to Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, sending fragments of his translations to Friedrich, who showed them to Caroline. Neue Zeichnungen Legacies and Identity. Related Information.
Watanabe-O Kelly, Helen. C36 Anna Seghers: The Mythic Dimension is forthcoming. She has also edited and written the introduction to Look who s laughing: gender and comedy She was editor of Signs: journal of Women in Culture and Society from to He has also written on the war literature of the twentieth century. P A L M E R , Professor of German Medieval and Linguistic Studies at the University of Oxford, is known particularly for his interest in the links between Latin and German literature and in the exploitation of palaeography and codicology for literary history.
Die lateinisch-deutschen Blockbucher des BerlinBreslauer Sammelbandes and Zisterzieuser und ihre Bucher: die mittelalterliche Bibliotheksgeschichte von Kloster Eberbach im Rheingau His monograph Prediger aus der neuen romantischen Clique. Zur Interaktion von Romantik und Homiletik um appeared in He is currently editing a volume on philosophy and literature in modern Germany CUP.
X List of contributors melancholische Landschaft. Ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des iy. Jahrhunderts , Triumphall shews. She has written many articles on German literature and court culture of the early modern period, on nineteenth-century fiction and on literary translation and is the co-editor, with Pierre Behar, of Spectaculum Europaeum. She is currently working on a study of court culture in Dresden in the early modern period.
Preface The only word in the title of this book which is uncontentious is the word Cambridge. What, for instance, does literature mean? Does it mean writing which claims to be high art or, at the other end of the spectrum, any connected text, whether written down or not? The authors of this history have defined the term as they saw fit in different periods. Charms and spells are discussed in chapter i, for instance, polemical pamphlets in chapter 3, letters in chapter 4, sermons in chapter 5 and radio plays in chapter 9 - alongside what have been traditionally conceived of as literary forms, of course.
The adjective German when applied to literature is just as difficult to define. Does it mean literature in the German language? Clearly it does. In certain periods, therefore, we must discuss what Germans wrote rather than merely what they wrote in German. But how do we define the Germans? One cannot simply say that they are those people living within the boundaries of the German-speaking world, for the latter has always contained French, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Serb, Croat, Polish, Czech and Yiddish speakers living side by side with German speakers.
In earlier periods one has to operate with that political entity called the Holy Roman Empire while the late-twentieth-century specialist has to deal with the existence of two Germanies and ask herself whether Austrians and Swiss count as Germans for literary purposes and, if they do not, why not. But these difficulties are as nothing beside those inherent in the term history.
Some of my colleagues have already told me that it is impossible nowadays to write a history at all.
There are those who would go further and say that the writing of history is immoral, in that it entails the construction of an official narrative designed to bolster the standing of those in power and to silence, indeed to write out of existence, those of the wrong social class, religious and political beliefs or gender. If, according to this view, any history is doomed before it even starts, how much more futile it is to name a book the history of German literature - with the little word o f implying a completeness which is certainly unachievable.
In spite of all this, it seems to me that each generation has a duty to write and rewrite history, for only by doing so can it confront the present and hope to avoid the mistakes of the past. In the case of Germany, the duty becomes inescapable. Its very complexity clearly makes the task more difficult but also more exciting. Writing a literary history also means confronting the vexed question of the canon. This method, of looking at readers as well as at writers, reveals that writing by Germans has in all periods been far richer than it has often been given credit for.
Story is the operative word here. Preface xiii has ever been written. Rather, each author has sought to convey the dynamic of the period he or she is dealing with, to show, with the benefit of hindsight, the development of the main trends within it as that author sees it, and in the full knowledge that another author might have seen things differently. Each author has fulfilled this task in his or her own way.
No overall editorial line was imposed. The authors were simply exhorted to be stimulating yet authoritative, challenging yet scholarly and to convey their own excitement at and fascination with the period they were writing on. But we have all had to make selections and always with a heavy heart and have in the end included those works which particularly interest us or which seem particularly interesting today.
The study of literature is not an optional luxury but the surest way to understand the people which produced it. And who can say, at the end of the twentieth century, that he or she does not need to understand the Germans? Note on translations Each title of a work is succeeded by a translation in parentheses. In the few cases where we have used an existing translation, that is credited. Helen Fehervary wishes to thank Professors Gisela E. Bahr, Erika Bourguignon and Jost Hermand for their counsel and their perceptivity regarding European developments in our century , the Ohio State University College of Humanities for granting her leave and the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures for graduate research assistance.
Her special thanks are due to Alicia Carter Greer. Only a very small amount of writing in German has survived from the reigns of Charlemagne and his successors from the middle of the eighth century to the early tenth , of the Ottonian emperors the tenth century and even of the Salians taking us through the eleventh century. Not only are the definitions of German and of literature problematic, but the more important question arises of whether German literature at this stage may be defined exclusively as literature in German.
One of the most interesting poems of the period, the Muspilli, dealing with the destruction of the world, is written in the margins and other spaces of a Latin manuscript, causing problems of sense, structure, ordering and sometimes of decipherment. Steinmeyer, Die kleineren althochdeutschen Sprachdenkmaler Berlin, , repr. Additional references are to K. Miillenhoff and W. Steinmeyer, , repr. Braune, Althochdeutsches Lesebuch, 16th edn by E.
Ebbinghaus, Tubingen, cited as Lb. Jahrhunderts Munich, , repr. For Carolingian Latin see J. The problem arises, too, of oral material, for the existence of which there is good evidence. Nor is there anything like a standard language. The Carolingian and Ottonian periods coincide roughly with the earliest written stage of the modern language, known as Old High German, but by this is meant a group of dialects spoken in present-day Germany south of Aachen , Austria and Switzerland, which share some linguistic features, notably the consonant changes differentiating them from Low German the dialects of northern Germany and the Low Countries, plus Anglo-Saxon.
But it would be wrong to exclude literature written in the continental Low German dialects of Old Saxon and Old Low Franconian, the ancestors of modern Plattdeutsch and of Dutch, although there is insufficient early material in Old Frisian, and Anglo-Saxon is culturally distinct. One single work, completed in the later ninth century, could serve as a beginning for German literature in the modern sense. Otfri e d, a Benedictine at the monastery of WeiEenburg now Wissembourg in French Alsace wrote in the s a large-scale version of the Gospel story in rhymed verse, in a dialect of the Southern Rhineland.
He was conscious of being an innovator in style, but even more in using a language which he knew was unusual for a literary undertaking. His work, moreover, was intended not just to survive, but to be disseminated. A whole finely written manuscript was devoted to it, and there are several copies. But Otfrid s Evangelienbuch did not spring fully armed from nowhere, and various strands of enquiry lead to and from this Gospel-book: how did written German develop to a stage where a major literary work is thinkable?
Throughout our period, the primary context of literature is Latin and its framework that of the Roman Church. Writing in German is for a very long time peripheral, whilst Latin texts in a range of genres bear witness to a well-established literary tradition in Germany. Latin literature written in German territories, by German-speakers, and often with German themes requires consideration, and indeed, the inclusion in literary histories of the period of every scrap of written German is even more distorting.
It is hard to justify highlighting some ill-written one-liner whilst ignoring a major work written in Germany because it is in Latin. Although the validity of the term renaissance has been debated, there was under Charlemagne both a florescence of literature and the encouragement of an educational and religious policy. It was against the background of this Carolingian renaissance that German was written down for the first time. Carolingian Latin literature Charlemagne s court provided a cultural and literary centre, and efforts were made towards the standardising of canon law, of the monastic rule of St Benedict, of the liturgy, and of the Bible itself, which still circulated in different versions.
In what is known as his palace school, established after at Aachen, he gathered a group of scholar-advisers whose poetry and prose was of importance during and after his reign, but for many of whom Germany was an adopted country. None of this was entirely new: the poet Venantius Fortunatus had composed encomia for Charlemagne s predecessors, the Merovingians. But Alcuin wrote to Charlemagne in referring to the establishment of an Athena nova.
Alcuin, his contemporaries and his successors all wrote prose and verse, and the extent to which Latin outweighs German in quantity and in quality has constantly to be borne in mind. Most important of all the literary activities was the writing of biblical commentaries. Usually derivative of earlier writings, especially those of Augustine and Gregory the Great, these consisted of a detailed exegesis of every verse of the Bible according to the various senses of Scripture - the literal or historical sense, the allegorical or typological linking New Testament events with those of the Old , the tropological or generalmoralising, and the anagogical interpreting the verse in the light of the end of the world.
Alcuin s widely known commentary on Genesis, for example, takes the form of answers to a series of simple questions directed at a magister by an enquiring pupil called Sigewulf. Although strictly speaking neither literary nor original, the Carolingian commentaries have a lasting influence on German-language writing down to the eleventh century and beyond. But we also find an accentual, stress-based verse, and end-rhyme, too, makes its appearance in Latin poetry rhyme within prose composition was a known rhetorical device.
Native German poetry seems to have been primarily rhythmic, however, and it used alliteration stave-rhyme to link the two halves of a four-stress long-line divided by a caesura, so that the first stress of the second half-line alliterates with at least one of those in the first. The poets themselves provide a picture of literary activities at Charlemagne s court.
Alcuin s poem Pro amicis poetae The poet s friends describes some of his colleagues, and he celebrated many of them either during their lives in shorter poems and in sometimes satirical poetic epistles, or later in epitaphs. His other verse includes nature poetry there is a famous debate between winter and spring , but a poem about a scriptorium, where monks are copying the holy writings of the Church Fathers , which will enable teachers to interpret the Bible, probably best reflects his primary interests. Many members of the court wrote panegyrics to Charlemagne, and in one of these Theodulf sounded a theme that will be heard later in German, a stress on the absolute rule of God s justice even over men of power.
Carolingian Latin literature 5 for Palm Sunday, Gloria, laus et honor still known in a different context as All glory, laud and honour. Another scholar-poet, a Frank named Angilbert, who died as abbot of St Riquier in the same year as Charlemagne, wrote his own epitaph. It is a single quatrain with each line beginning and ending with the same word rex , lex , lux , pax , and it demonstrates briefly and memorably one of the features of the period: a delight in artifice, with acrostics and pattern-poems both frequent and complex.
Amongst the major military achievements in Charlemagne s reign were his defeat of the Bavarian leader Tassilo, and the protracted and violent Christianisation of the Saxons, but an early epic poem on the latter, the Carmen de conversione Saxonum, Song of the conversion of the Saxons , describing also Charlemagne s meeting with the exiled Pope Leo at Paderborn in , was probably by an Anglo-Saxon, while another, about the victory over Tassilo, was written by an exiled Irishman Hibernicus Exul. The compilation of prose annals is of considerable antiquity.
In the Carolingian period the major work is the Annales Regni Francorum, known as the Royal annals, while early ninth-century annals include those of Metz, of Fulda and of St Bertin. They constitute major, if occasionally biased, historical sources, and in these and other historical writings an image gradually develops of Charlemagne and his renovatio imperii Romani renewal of the Roman Empire , until with writers like Regino of Prum, whose Chronicon was written in Trier at the start of the tenth century, Charlemagne s empire is seen as the last of the four great empires of world history.
The process begins, perhaps, with a prose biography of Charlemagne in thirty-three chapters partly modelled on Suetonius , written not long after his death. Einhard s work, edited after his death and provided with an introduction by Walahfrid Strabo and translated into German in the twelfth century , was much used by later writers.
An unnamed late ninth-century Poeta Saxo , perhaps from Corvey, used it in the five books of his verse Annates de gestis Caroli Magni Annals of the deeds of Charlemagne , stressing how Charlemagne had rightly held the sceptre of the Roman Empire , and had brought glory, prosperity, rule, peace, life and triumph to the Franks.
The Saxon also mentions Charlemagne s interest in German songs. Far better as a poet is the unfortunate Gottschalk of Orbais c. It first echoes the Israelites refusal to sing songs in exile, a link with his own banishment, but then becomes a rhythmic hymn of praise. Another scholar at Fulda whose role in German literature is unusual, since he achieved fame as the abbot of a French monastery, was Servatus Lupus or in German, Wolf, c. Carolingian Latin literature 7 sics, most notably of Cicero. Lupus was friendly with Gottschalk, as was a further Fulda pupil, Walahfrid Strabo c.
Walahfrid s best-known poem is an allegory on the plants in his garden, but he wrote among other pieces a hagiographic description of the Vision of Wetti. Both Walahfrid and Lupus were at the court of Lewis the Pious, as was the poet-historian Ermoldus Nigellus, whose extensive work in four books, In honorem Hludowici Christianissimi Caesaris Augusti In honour of the Most Christian Emperor Lewis was designed to help him regain his lost favour with that emperor. The work is in Ovidian elegiac couplets, with much echoing of Vergil, although in the opening verses he cites a range of classical and Christian writers.
Their men swore a similar oath in their own language; French and German are established regional vernaculars, but the context of report is Latin. There are two Latin prose lives of Lewis the Pious, one written during his lifetime, the other after his death. Thegan bert , author of the first, was a cleric from Trier, while the second is known only as the Astronomer, from the knowledge displayed in the work.
The latter describes not only Lewis s church reforms, but also how he bellowed defiance in German at an evil spirit on his deathbed. Thegan makes a literary point, however, describing how well-versed Lewis was in the interpretation of the Scriptures, but how, unlike Charlemagne, he would neither hear, read nor have taught non-Christian poetry. The dominant aesthetic of our period was expressed at the end of the eighth century by Alcuin and was by no means new even then when he asked what has Ingeld [a Germanic heroic figure] to do with Christ?
Notker Balbulus of St Gallen c. The sequence, sung originally as part of the liturgy, is made up of double strophes which match rhythmically syllable for syllable, with separate introductory and concluding strophes. The juxtaposition of fall and redemption becomes a theme in German, but such compactness will not be matched for some time. Early German functional writing German was committed to writing in the monasteries, using the Latin alphabet, and Charlemagne s own reforms had provided a unified, neat and legible book-hand based on classical models and known as Carolingian minuscule.
There are, it is true, a few pre-eighth-century runic inscriptions, often on fibulae, and mostly of names. Otherwise all written Old High and Old Low German depends entirely upon the church, and almost all of it had a specific and pragmatic purpose: the teaching and understanding of Christian-Latin texts. While Charlemagne s educational reforms must not be exaggerated, his capitularies and admonitions did insist upon the education of priests and monks, and upon in the Admonitio generalis of 23 March, the dissemination of the Creed, the Paternoster and the professions of faith.
A ninth-century Bavarian translation of a Latin baptismal sermon, the Exhortatio ad plebem Christianum Exhortation to Christian people, St. Official pronouncements required sermons, too, to be read in German, by which is implied translated from Latin. We are told in Walahfrid s Life of St Gall of a Latin sermon being translated on the spot during the earliest missions. Early German functional writing 9 The notion of a standard language is centuries away, and the view that there was a German Hofsprache or court language is no longer held: the court language was Latin.
At best there may have been some attempt at standardisation in the important monastery school at Fulda, but wide variations in orthography, vocabulary and syntax are to be expected with monks working in different centres without easy communication. Many of the earlier monasteries of the south were Irish foundations which were gradually regularised under the Benedictine Rule.
Later, Low German monasteries such as those at Werden or Corvey became literary centres. Most of these monasteries had scriptoria and libraries containing the works of the Church Fathers, Isidore, Boethius, Bede, Alcuin, Hraban and usually some Christian-Latin poetry. Writing down German at all, however, was no simple task. Simple adaptation of the Latin word, literalism, or the use of an equivalent which might have secular or Germanic-religious overtones are all problematic in their own ways.
To cite a single example, to render dominus , lord , as applied to the prince of peace with the Old High German word truhtin , war- lord could not but invite confusion. The earliest German is in the form of individual words found in the legal codes of the Germanic tribes which Charlemagne intended to harmonise with codified Roman law , preserved in Latin between the sixth and the eighth centuries.
The Lex Salica, the laws of the Salian Franks, first written down under the Merovingians, contains legal terms in German signalled by the addition of the word malb. The words are archaic, and a later Old High German translation updated the terminology. A glossed text is one in which words have been added either by way of explanation or to translate individual Latin words into German.
Sometimes only a few words have been glossed, at others all or nearly all, to provide a word-for-word version which is not, however, a translation. Sometimes, finally, a manuscript with interlinear or other glosses has been re-copied and the glosses incorporated into the body of the text. The aim is always to help the German-speaker to understand, but a German vocabulary is also being developed.
Biblical texts were glossed; a group from the Reichenau include the Psalms and Luke s Gospel, and there are Alemannic, Rhenish and Low Franconian interlinear glosses of the Psalter and of Old Testament canticles. The translation of a decree passed in known as the Trierer Capitulare St X L , made in the early tenth century, is also a complete interlinear gloss, although it contains interesting legal terminology concerned with wills and gifts. Reference works as such were also glossed. The Latin words have all been been translated into German, apparently not always with full awareness of the context.
Close to glossaries of this kind, too, is the phrase book, of which we have two different examples in Old High German. The first, in a manuscript now in Kassel but written by a Bavarian, belongs to the Hermeneumata tradition, but contains also some phrases and indeed what appears to be a proverbial comment about the cunning of the Bavarians as opposed to the guilelessness of the Italians. Of greater interest is a later work called from its current provenance , the Paris conversation-book, which preserves what looks like a dialogue.
The German comes first, with Latin following and for once not the primary language, even though it is the medium for comprehension. Place-names in the manuscript suggest that these are the notes of someone one of Lupus s exchange students? Early German functional writing II language.
Most are again strictly practical and include the Creed and the Lord s Prayer, confessions and baptismal vows the last two categories being especially well-represented , and even a priest s vow St. Several of the professions of faith include renunciations of the devil and sometimes of Germanic gods. The early Franconian prayer St. Slightly later is the Klosterneuburg prayer St. Of greater literary importance is the Wessobrunn prayer St. The German is on a free leaf following a section on the measurement of time, and although written clearly, it is not without problems.
The original provenance of the work is unknown; the use of a runic symbol and an abbreviation for and is unusual, as are some individual words, causing problems with the predominantly Bavarian dialect; there are some gaps, and it is unclear whether the prayer is divided into a verse and a prose portion, or is all in verse; the meaning of the Latin title De poeta has been disputed, while the Latin passage following the German in the same hand has largely been ignored.
De poeta probably means of the Creator , and the German text first describes in nine alliterative long-lines the primeval nothingness, when there was only the presence of God. These lines can be arranged as verse, although not entirely satisfactorily, and may really be rhetorical prose in balanced periods, for which parallels appear later. The Latin lines which follow the German after a one-line gap are a stronger demand for repentance. This is not a creation-poem but a prayer, perhaps for private meditation.
The request in the second part for right belief matches that in the briefer Franconian prayer, which also has incidental alliteration at that point. The structure is close to the liturgical collect on the one hand and to the so-called charms on the other, in both of which we find, typically, a title, a narrative portion, and then a request, followed by a Latin conclusion.
It is appropriate, however, to follow the Wessobrunn prayer with the brief but both literary and functional texts usually designated Zauberspruche St. What literary histories have termed charms or blessings without necessarily differentiating clearly are all, in their surviving forms, a specific type of supplicatory prayer found in Old High and Low German and in Latin and most vernaculars , in prose and verse alliterative or end-rhymed , which occasionally preserve in a Christian context a very few pre-Christian elements.
They are in the first instance, then, therapeutic rather than prophylactic. Prayers, too, can also petition God for help with existing situations, and both are similar in aim to the medical recipe, which uses physical ingredients to cure something that has already happened. Spoken aloud, those would far outweigh the Old High German, and would impose upon any original sense of magic the submission to the will of God.
The Merseburg charms St. L X I I do preserve what is clearly older material. Early German functional writing 13 page of a manuscript containing liturgical material including a fragment in German of a prayer spoken at the elevation of the host, St. The first describes in three long-lines how some prisoners were released by idisi , valkyries, and then in a concluding line commands that someone should escape from bonds. The second, structurally more complex poem describes how Wodan and Phol who is unidentified were riding in a wood when the latter s horse sprained a foot.
The verses are followed by a Latin prose prayer which asks for God s help for an individual whose name can be added. This prayer is integral to the whole and makes acceptable the earlier material. There are no headings, but although the first charm is often described as being for the release of prisoners it is more likely an allegory for paralysis or cramp. Similarly, although the second piece refers to a horse, it might apply to any sprain, and certainly the accompanying prayer refers to people.
The narrative element is found in a completely Christian form later, the riders being Christ, St Peter or St Stephen, and further charms are based upon originally Christian narratives such as the piercing of Christ s side by Longinus, invoked frequently against bleeding. An Old High German epilepsy prayer may also preserve the name of another Germanic god, but here in particular the pre-Christian element is reduced to little more than an opening abracadabra-word.
Some of these pieces are concerned with animals, particularly horses, but the majority have to do with minor medical conditions amongst humans. One late prayer from Zurich Wilhelm x x v i , finally, has a Latin superscript announcing its theme as chastity. In the German part, the example of the Virgin Mary is followed by a request for chasteness, and there is a concluding amen , let it be.
But a final comment has a curiously medical ring: Diz gebet ist uilgot tagilich gelesin this prayer is very effective if read once daily. It was translated into German at Fulda, probably under the auspices of Hrabanus early in the ninth century, and the principal copy, now in St Gallen made by six different scribes with differing dialects. The manuscript has the German and the Latin in parallel columns, and the German text does not always match the Latin, nor indeed is that Latin version the same as other western European versions.
The Isidoregroup includes also parts of a sermon called De vocatione gentium, of another sermon by Augustine, of an unidentified work, and of Matthew s Gospel. In the Paris manuscript the left-hand page has the Latin text of Isidore s tract, the right the German, though the latter was not completed, and after a few blank pages the Latin fills both sides. The translator seems actively to have avoided Latin constructions such as participial forms and tries consistently to make clear who is presenting the argument at any point. There is also a clear and consistent orthographic system.
In the fragments from Monsee, the translation of the Gospel is not as free, perhaps due to the desire to keep to the sacred language once again, although it is not as literal as the Tatian version. These translations again indicate the potential of High German at an early stage. Religious poetry: Heliand, Otfrid and later pieces 15 long-lines divided into just over seventy cantos. The work seems to show the influence of Fulda; the narrative is based on the Tatian Gospelharmony, and the poet may have used a commentary on Matthew by Hrabanus himself, written around The work presents and explains the many miracles uundarlicas filo , 36b of Christ.
The epic elements strike the reader, but the interpretative parts are also important. The exegesis is a familiar one, going back to Gregory the Great, and Otfrid himself uses it too. The effect of the whole work, though, is to stress the power of God over the attacks of the enemy, and the conclusion to the raising of Lazarus X L I X epitomises this: as Lazarus was healed, so may the mikile maht godes God s mighty power preserve any man uuid fiundo nid against the envy of the enemy.
Of course the Heliand Germanises to an extent; it employs a Germanic poetic form, and hence in its build-up of formulaic phrases, with echoes of secular heroic poetry, it can sometimes look like more an heroic epic than is justified. But Christ does not become a Germanic warrior, nor is there really evidence of supposed Germanic delights in battle. In the struggle between Malchus and Peter, for example, which is sometimes seen as evidence for such interest, the implications of the story are spelt out very clearly indeed.
Part of an Anglo-Saxon poem on Genesis now called Genesis B proved to be a translation of an Old Saxon original, of which fragments have survived. The Genesis is close to the Heliand in form, and the treatment of the two poles of man s salvation, the fall and the redemption, is understandable. Surviving fragments present the fall, Cain, and Sodom and Gomorrah, using formulas that again echo heroic poetry. Otfrid conceived the work as it appears in the principal manuscript, now in Vienna, and in simplest terms it is a German poem of over seven thousand long-lines, narrating and expounding material from the Gospels though not based, like the Heliand, on a harmony.
The German poetry is at the centre, arranged in couplets of long-lines, rhyming at caesura and cadence, and with the second line indented, the work is divided into five books, the books into chapters, and there are introductory and concluding chapters in each. But the chapters have Latin titles in red , and tables of these titles are prefaced to each book.
A German dedicatory poem to Lewis the German opens the work, and a prose letter in Latin to Liutbert, archbishop of Mainz and Otfrid s ecclesiastical superior, comes next. These poems have Latin titles which are spelt out as acrostics and telestichs by the first and last letters of the German strophes. That the title is also spelt out by the last letters of the third half-line is not always clear in modern editions, however.
The capital letters that begin each strophe are red, and they vary in size Otfrid used this as a further structuring element and there are also Latin marginal indications which tend to become submerged in the apparatus to modern editions in red, pointing to biblical passages. The Vienna manuscript has three coloured illustrations the entry into Jerusalem, last supper, crucifixion , and the cover has an image of a labyrinth.
But another copy was made without the dedicatory poems at the Bavarian monastery of Freising and the dialect is Bavarian, rather than Otfrid s South Rhenish Franconian. There are several distinct differences from the Heliand, and it has been argued both that Otfrid used, and that he deliberately avoided similarities with that work.
Both works present Gospel material in the vernacular, of course, and both mix narrative and interpretation, but the form is different, archaic alliterative line against rhymed long-line couplets, as is the artistic complexity of Otfrid s work. Religious poetry: Heliand, Otfrid and later pieces 17 WeiEenburg he became magister scholiae , played a major role in the building up of the now dispersed library, and may have been involved with glossing.
His name is on a WeiEenburg document dated , and he probably died in about , although there is no record of his death. The dedications indicate that the Evangelienbuch was completed between , when Liutbert became archbishop, and , when Salomo of Constance died. In the letter to Liutbert Otfrid gives a number of reasons for writing the poem.
One is to counter German secular songs cantus obscenus , but he refers also to the encouragement of friends, and to the inspiration of Latin Christian writers. This invites us to make comparisons, and of those Otfrid names, Juvencus fourth century produced a largely narrative Gospel poem in four books rather than five , while Arator fifth century combined commentary and narrative in his metrical version of the Acts of the Apostles.
Otfrid s five books represent, he tells us, our five imperfect senses to be countered by the four Gospels, and contain 28, 24, 26, 37 and 25 chapters respectively, few having more than a hundred long-lines. Book , chapter 20 on the man born blind in John ix, 1 has nearly two hundred plus an additional chapter offering a spiritual interpretation , and one v, 23 , contrasting heaven and earth, has nearly three hundred. The books deal with the prophecies about and nativity of Christ 1 , the ministry, teaching and miracles 11 and in , the passion iv and the resurrection, ascension and last judgement v.
It remains unclear whether Otfrid is selecting Gospel passages from memory, or using either a lectionary or a Vulgate marked with pericopes for reading. His technique, however, is to integrate narrative augmented according to the literal sense with interpretation, and this integration can be subtle. The contrast betweeen the misery of the world and the delights of paradise is a repeated motif. There are in the Evangelienbuch striking lyrical passages and refrains, but the meat of the work is in passages like these, or the chapters dealing with the wedding feast at Cana 11, , where a spiritual interpretation is followed by a consideration of why Christ turned water into wine rather than creating it from nothing.
So, too, the story of the man born blind in, is again seen as referring to sinful humanity, and the relevant chapter is in the form of a prayer ending with an amen that man s inner eyes might be opened. Otfrid shares with other Old High German poets a vivid image of the day of judgement, and stresses the impossibility of escape from a justice which is no respecter of persons in his apocalyptic description in v, 19, where a refrain underlines the good fortune of anyone who can face that doom with equanimity.
Further chapters continue the theme down to the longest and most complex chapter of all v, 23 , contrasting heaven and earth, and containing prayers for mercy, just before the conclusion of the whole work. To refer to the Evangelienbuch as a biblical epic is misleading, as it places too great an emphasis on the narrative aspects. It is a teaching work for use with the Vulgate, and the marginal indicators refer the reader to given verses.
Religious poetry: Heliand, Otfrid and later pieces 19 preacher, however, and the interpretations are frequently homiletic. The work is intended presumably both for a listening audience, as reinforced by the frequent interpolated comments referring backwards and forwards in the text as I have said and as a reading or study text, as when Otfrid tells the audience Lis selbo, theih thir redion Go and read for yourself what I am telling you , 11, 9, The Evangelienbuch is polyfunctional, narrating, teaching and commentating, and the stylistic tension between his use of voices - ih and uuir T and you - is that between the teacher and the preacher.
Otfrid s work is the first major German text to use rhymed verse, and he was aware of the novelty. His rhymes are sometimes on unstressed final vowels, or are assonantic, though only two lines are unrhymed. The origin of rhyme in German has occasioned much debate, and possible influences include the colometric style found in the Vulgate Psalter as well as in Latin prose, where recurring sequences cola can demonstrate omoioteleuton , the word Otfrid uses for end-rhyme.
He clearly knew formal works on grammar and metre and he plays on metrical terms. The Latin rhythmi known as Ambrosian hymns developed rhymed short lines especially in England and Ireland, possibly influenced by native Irish verse , while the Leonine hexameter is a longer rhymed Latin form. In one major respect, Otfrid is a revolutionary: in his choice of German. This cannot be overstated, and he justifies it in the first chapter of the first book, headed in Latin why the writer wrote this book in German.
Although he is less apologetic about the barbaric nature of German by which he means that it is unlike Latin in orthography and grammar here than in his letter to Liutbert, there is a nationalistic note in both. To Liutbert he complains that the Franks use the languages of other peoples. In 1,1 he stresses that the Franks are just as good as the Romans and Greeks, and should not be inhibited from writing God s praise in their own language.
Otfrid s desire to replace secular vernacular poetry may be in line with the cultural policy of Charlemagne s successors, but there are echoes of the nationalism implicit in the translatio imperii. The Conclusio voluminis totius The conclusion of the whole volume, v, 25 picks up the idea, calling for the eternal singing of God s praises by all men and angels, placing the Franks into a scheme that is not only world-wide, but eternal.
Composed perhaps at the Reichenau and written down in the tenth century, it breaks off at the end of a manuscript page. There is a homely feel about the dialogue, and the Samaritana exclaims uuizze Christ , Christ knows on one occasion. It ends at John iv, 20, leaving us the question of why this somewhat unpretentious fragment was written, although the pericope one of the readings for Lent , was adapted separately later in the Middle Ages in English. The purpose may have been to stress that those who are not Jews can believe in Christ.
At the end of the Freising manuscript of the Evangelienbuch, following an indication in Latin that the copy was done at the behest of Bishop Waldo by the unworthy scribe Sigihard, comes Sigihard s prayer St. Another Rhenish Franconian rhymed prayer, probably made in the late ninth century, renders into four lines of German verse the Latin prose collect Deus qui proprium.
O God, whose nature. One, in a Trier manuscript in an eleventh-century hand uses the crude code sometimes found in glosses St. L X X X , and another, from a different monastery in Trier and written rather earlier, has two longlines adapted from Gregory the Great St. The rhymed Zurich house-blessing St.
L X X V is the bluntest attempt to keep away devils, however, challenging any demon to pronounce the word chnospinci. Specific rhymed prayers ask that bees might not swarm elsewhere, or that valuable dogs might not run away St. Religious poetry: Heliand, Otfrid and later pieces 21 aid in gaining the kingdom of heaven, is a hymn rather than a prayer.
That St Peter, as keeper of the gate of heaven, can intercede for the sinner is familiar enough, and is echoed closely in a Latin hymn, albeit not a rhymed or rhythmic one. The real interest of the work lies in the implicit sense of community: God is unsar trohtin , our Lord , and the prayer concludes pittemes.
The hymnic feel is unmistakable, and the text is provided in the manuscript with musical notation. The work is less easy to associate with the dedication of a specific church than with St Peter s See in Rome, something voiced long ago by Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who noted in a description of the coronation there of Henry IV in a reference to the singing by the clergy of the parallel Latin hymn, and by the laity of a German song to St Peter with the kyrie.
It is more difficult to categorise another work, again almost certainly composed under the influence of the Freising Otfrid. The final long-line of this group is repeated in the same way to begin a concluding six lines. The first part follows the Vulgate fairly closely and concludes with an idea that comes later in the Psalm, that of shunning those who do murder. The section concludes, however, with an idea from the first part of the Vulgate text: the impossibility of escaping from God.
This becomes the theme of the six-line concluding prayer for God to preserve the speaker. This time the precise year of composition is known, but the work raises an odd question: why is it in German at all? The poem was written down in France by a French scribe, from the look of his errors , probably in the monastery of St Amand, near Valenciennes. Next to it in the otherwise Latin manuscript is an Old French hagiographic poem in the same hand.
Lewis came to the throne in his teens in , and shared the West Frank territories at the Agreement of Amiens in with his brother, Carloman. Lewis III was faced with various real problems: he needed to establish his throne, and his accession coincided with a series of attacks on northern France by the Vikings. From contemporary chronicles we know that Lewis and Carloman together defeated a would-be usurper, Boso, Duke of Provence, after which Lewis rode north and defeated a Viking force at Saucourt in Picardy in August , a victory that was bound to be the subject of immediate acclaim, but was of limited significance, since Lewis died almost exactly a year later.
In his dedicatory poem to Lewis the German, Otfrid, too, made references to God s aid in victory, to the loyal followers, to the king s ability to withstand suffering, his service of God, and to the hope of long life, all of which are echoed here. The Ludwigslied is consistently theocentric in its approach, however.
The Vikings are sent by God for two reasons: to test the young king whose premature loss of a father, we are told, has been compensated for by his adoption by God ; and to punish the Franks for their sins. The Vikings themselves are not characterised at all, because they are simply instruments, and there is none of the vivid presentation of these feared invaders found in some of the annals. The notion of a divine scourge goes back to the Old Testament and continues well beyond the ninth century; Alcuin wrote to Ethelred of Northumbria interpreting the Viking raids on Lindisfarne in June, as a punishment against fornication, avarice, robbery , precisely the sins mentioned here.
God commands Lewis we are told simply that he was away, not where he was to avenge my people, a significant formulation, and Lewis rallies his troops, joins battle and is victorious. Religious poetry: Heliand, Otfrid and later pieces 23 special knowledge. Lewis is not told that victory will be his, and in an address to his troops not unlike those found in Germanic heroic poetry points out that men s lives are in God s hands.
They ride into battle after singing the kyrie , submissive to God s mercy, then, rather than confident of victory or of heaven.
A somewhat repetitious amount of critical attention has been paid to the historical context of the poem, rather than its approach to history. Certainly it may be seen as propaganda for a young king under threat, and his birthright is underscored, but to seek specific connections with events outside the poem is of dubious relevance. Why, however, is the poem in German and not in Old French or Latin? St Amand, where the poem was probably written, had a celebrated school, attracting men from abroad, including probably this Rhenish poet. The poem may have been intended for German speakers amongst the West Franks, but the interesting suggestion has been made that it was designed as propaganda on a broader scale.
The king s German counterpart, Lewis the Younger, died in January , leaving no absolutely clear successor. Perhaps the poem was intended to make a case to a lay nobility in Germany for the West Frank king as overall ruler? While there was an extensive tradition of Latin hagiography in prose and verse by German writers such as Walahfrid, we know of only two saints lives in German, one of which survives only in a later adaptation, so that Ratpert s life of St Gall must be considered under Ottonian Latin.
The poem was added to the Heidelberg Otfrid-manuscript by a scribe called Wisolf, who seems to have given up in mid-narrative though he still had space available with the word nequeo , I can t manage. The text is garbled, the orthography eccentric looking occasionally like dyslexia , and there are copy errors. A Latin Vita like one in St Gallen may be the source, and the dragon-slaying episode, incidentally, was not associated with the saint until far later.
Galerius of Dacia who may have had the real St George killed and who appears here as Dacianus tries to kill him in the poem, but whenever he tries to do so, we are told in a repeated line that George rose up again. This is the alliterative poem known as Muspilli St. Although the basis is the alliterative long-line, there are also rhymes.
The work has three themes: first, the battle between the forces of heaven and hell for the individual soul after death, with the implications for the afterlife of misdeeds on earth; then doomsday itself, brought about by victory of Antichrist over Elijah and the spilling of Elijah s blood, with the inescapability of the judgement stressed, and also that things will go badly for anyone who has not judged honestly; and the summoning of the quick and the dead, when Christ will appear in majesty.
At this point the poem breaks off. The theme of the work as we have it is judgement after death, of the individual soul and of the world, and the message is clear enough: right behaviour is needed during man s earthly life. Whether Muspilli came before or after Otfrid s Gospel-book is hard to determine, and the fact that both share an alliterative line describing paradise dar ist lip ano tod lioht ano finstri there is life without death, light without darkness , need imply no more than that both writers drew on a tradition which is well attested in Latin too. There is no evidence that either poet knew the other s work, but both had a clear idea of doomsday, and we shall encounter again homiletic poems on the same theme.
The Germanic hero: the Hildebrandslied and Waltharius The Germanic hero: the Hildebrandslied and Waltharius The secular songs to which Otfrid objected doubtless included heroic poems, of which only one early German example survives. But it is less than useful to try to discuss in detail what we do not have, and our sole written example is a poem of sixty-nine lines in a mixture of High and Low German, preserved, though we have no idea why, in a theological document.
The work is important because it is unique, but in spite of problems it is still clearly of literary value. A description early in the work of the two central figures putting on their armour can be matched phrase-for-phrase in Anglo-Saxon, and other formulas are repeated within the work. Nevertheless, our manuscript is a late copy there are mistakes in it that can only have come from a written source and it is impossible to guess how many written stages preceded it.
Preserved on the front and back pages of a manuscript, it is incomplete, though only a few lines seem to be missing. Its language, though, is impossible; an attempt has been made to render a work written in the Bavarian dialect the alliteration only works in High German into Low German, but with such lack of success that false forms appear. This version was copied using some Anglo-Saxon characters probably early in the ninth century at Fulda, but when the poem was composed can only be guessed at. The poem deals with a battle between a father and a son set within a distorted but recognisable context, namely the east-west division of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths.
From what is now south-west Russia, the Visigoths moved in the fifth century westwards to Rome and then to Burgundy and Spain, while the Ostrogoths remained in the east. The Ostrogoths under Theoderic known in German as Dietrich took Rome in from Odoacer, but the poem and later German writings assume that Odoacer had driven Theoderic out of his rightful kingdom, after which he spent time as an exile at the court of Attila Theoderic s father had been an ally of the Huns , returning to regain his lands. In our poem, Hildebrand is one of Theoderic s men, who had fled with him into exile, and, having returned, has to face in single combat the son he left behind.
The story might well have passed thence to Bavaria, and then northwards. Two champions are picked to fight in single combat before their respective forces, and we are told at the outset that they are father and son.