could find none better, and then to take the reader into his confidence
and ask him to look carefully at what he found in the Tristan and thus
appreciate in what ways the poem differed from the work of contemporaries. The poem is, after all, written for edele herzen who live in courts
but are not of them. Tristan and Isolde too live in courts but are not of
them. As he had indicated in his prologue, Gottfried writes in the genre
of the romance but his work is not of it. The literary excursus is an organic part of the poem, for it shares with the preface the task of indicating to the audience how the whole work must be read.
There have been several articles recently on the literary excursus: Herbert Kolb
, "'Der ware Elicon.' Zu Gottfrieds Tristan vv. 4862-4907," DVLG ( 1967), 41:1-26; Hans Fromm, "Tristans Schwertleite," DVLG ( 1967), 41:33-50; Ingrid Hahn
, "Zu Gottfrieds von Strassburg Literaturschau," ZDA ( 1965), 96:218- 236; Louise Gnaedinger, "Musik und Minne im Tristan Gottfrieds von Strassburg," Wirkendes Wort, Beiheft, 19 ( 1967). None of these concerns itself specifically with the points raised in this essay.
"Tristan the Artist in Gottfried's Poem," PMLA ( 1962), 77:364-72.
I cite Ranke's text as revised in Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan,
et al., eds. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967). All
translations are my own.
Homer, Iliad xviii and xix, and Vergil, Aeneid viii. 370 ff. and 608 ff. Both
in Homer and Vergil the shield offers an opportunity for the poet to comment
on society and Homer's highly sophisticated use of it shows that it was already a
well-known device. The need to connect the shield of Aeneas with the theme of
the greatness of Rome makes Vergil's description appear much more forced. It is
made clear in the Aeneid that the provision of arms by a god assures victory. Tristan, of course, reccives only the same type of arms as those given to his companions and is thus by implication differentiated from classical heroes. The spiritual
values which actually distinguish him from them cannot be expressed, allegorically or otherwise, in terms of arms and clothing. Gottfried thus breaks with the
very classical tradition that he has imported into the literary excursus.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Challenge of the Medieval Text:Studies in Genre and Interpretation.
Contributors: W. T. H. Jackson - Author, Joan M. Ferrante - Editor, Robert W. Hanning - Editor.
Publisher: Columbia University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1985.
Page number: 246.
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