The book places Wagner's
Tannhäuser within the German literary tradition. Separate chapters of the book are devoted to discussions of the medieval sources and the analogous works by Ludwig Tieck, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Heinrich Heine. These studies, which converge on Wagner's opera, not only highlight various aspects or facets of Wagner's
Tannhäuser, but at the same time show the transmission of the Tannhäuser and song contest legends into the nineteenth century and how Wagner combined them.