«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday
Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna
Sie ist gerne iht niuwe ('It Always Is Something New'): Love, Sorrow, and Proverbial Challenges in the Middle High German Tristan Sequels
Olga V. Trokhimenko
To continue a work begun by somebody else is never easy. To continue a work that even in its unfinished form is considered to be a masterpiece is far more daunting. To bring, despite one's limitations, to completion an unfinished masterpiece whose author's worldview and ideology one does not fully embrace is an impossible task indeed. Yet this is precisely the predicament in which two medieval poets, Ulrich von Türheim (ca. 1240) and Heinrich von Freiberg (late 13th c., before 1290) are placed, charged with a task by their respective patrons to tell to its bitter end the tale of adulterous love between Tristan and Isolde, so masterfully begun yet left incomplete by the genius of Gottfried von Strassburg. No wonder then that both resulting epics are often ridiculed and dismissed by literary critics as unworthy of their source material. Of the four main Middle High German poets known for their work on the Tristan material, only the two earlier ones' literary achievement – that of Eilhart von Oberge (ca. 1170–1175) and Gottfried von Strassburg (ca. 1210) – is commonly recognized, with particular praise reserved for Gottfried's unfinished torso. The above-mentioned two later thirteenth-century texts by Ulrich von Türheim and Heinrich von Freiberg have traditionally been dismissed as second-rate and by far inferior to their predecessors: Gottfried, whose text they purport to continue, and Eilhart, whose plotline they actually follow.1 The sequels are said to fall short conceptually and artistically, to misunderstand...
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