A Companion to Middle High German Literature to the 14th Century

A Companion to Middle High German Literature to the 14th Century

A Companion to Middle High German Literature to the 14th Century

A Companion to Middle High German Literature to the 14th Century

Synopsis

This volume is a guide to medieval German literature from its beginnings in the eighth century to the fourteenth century. It will escort the motivated student and colleague with interest in the European Middle Ages but no expertise in older German languages. The chapter authors, all internationally-known scholars, were given the freedom to arrange their chapters as they felt most appropriate, including the question of the terminus ad quem. Chapters deal either with a chronological period, e.g. 13th century, or with specific genres, eg. drama. In addition, chapters both on the historical epoch and on the development of the German language in the medieval period have been included. In general, historical and cultural topics play an important role in each chapter.

Excerpt

The present volume is a guide, a companion, as the title indicates, to medieval German literature from its beginnings in the eighth century to the fourteenth century. The book's purpose is to escort the motivated student and colleague who has an interest, professional or otherwise, in the European Middle Ages but who either lacks a working knowledge of older German languages or who cannot comfortably pursue sustained research in modern German.

The area of medieval German studies is an exciting, vibrant discipline within the broad area of Medieval Studies. Yet difficulties with the language have made German studies largely inaccessible to many students and colleagues in neighboring fields. Many of us had discussed for years the rather low level of knowledge about—or even awareness of—the brilliant literary accomplishments of the German Middle Ages. Several older and newer “Introductions” to and “Histories” of medieval German literature in English have attempted to bridge that gap with varying degrees of success. These attempts notwithstanding, there seemed to be nothing available that combined the necessary introductory features with more than superficial insight into the period.

Brill Publishers' new handbook series offers the opportunity to provide just such a guide, and it was with this aim in mind that the present volume was conceived. The format is a combination of chapters dealing with works of an identifiable, chronological period (for example, chapters three and twelve) and of chapters that deal with specific genres. In addition, since literature does not arise in a cultural or historical vacuum, chapters both on the historical epoch and on the development of the German language from Old High German to Early New High German have also been included.

Each chapter author was given the freedom to arrange the chapter as she/he felt most appropriate, including the question of whether to go beyond 1300. Each author also determined which works and authors would receive closer analysis. The aim was not to be all inclusive but rather to be representative. It is thus inevitable that specialists will notice that one or the other major work or author receives relatively short shrift. It is to be hoped that the volume will . . .

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