Brides and Doom: Gender, Property, and Power in Medieval German Women's Epic

Brides and Doom: Gender, Property, and Power in Medieval German Women's Epic

Brides and Doom: Gender, Property, and Power in Medieval German Women's Epic

Brides and Doom: Gender, Property, and Power in Medieval German Women's Epic

Excerpt

In the title of the present study I designate the focal texts, the Nibelungenlied, Diu Klage, and Kudrun, by the unconventional term "women's epic." Perhaps it would then be useful to begin with a word on titles and the politics of naming. The Middle High German Nibelungenlied has survived and been transmitted in some three dozen manuscripts. Diu Klage, a "sequel/ quasi-commentary" on the Nibelungenlied, is appended to that text in almost all extant manuscripts.1 Kudrun survives in a single, early modern manuscript, commonly called the Ambraser Heldenbuch because, on the one hand, of its long-time repository (Ambras) and, on the other, of early scholarly perceptions of its contents (heroic epic).2 The manuscript, copied by the customs official Hans Ried on commission by the Emperor Maximilian I in the years before and after 1510, is an anthology of Middle High German "heroic" literature. In the middle of this anthology of tales of the deeds of heroes is this trio of narratives that, while also featuring heroes and their deeds, focuses to a surprising degree on female characters. These three narratives, sandwiched between the manuscript's Dietrich and Wolfdietrich epics, form, as it were, the centerpiece of the collection. Their focus on women is acknowledged by the titles given them in the manuscript: . . .

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