Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Poetik Des Lachens. Untersuchungen Zum Mittelhochdeutschen Roman Um 1200

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Poetik Des Lachens. Untersuchungen Zum Mittelhochdeutschen Roman Um 1200

Article excerpt

Poetik des Lachens. Untersuchungen zum mittelhochdeutschen Roman um 1200 1200, Münchener Texte und Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters 140 (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2010). x + 326 pp. ISBN 978-3-11-023502-9. euro69.95.

Stefan Seeber's study, a shortened version of his doctoral thesis, makes an important contribution to the appreciation of medieval German romance at its most creative point around 1200. His subject is, to use the simplest terms he employs to describe it, 'das Lachen im und über den Text'; that is to say, he is concerned with instances of laughter that occur within texts and with the ways in which, and the purposes for which, audiences are prompted to respond with kughter. He is primarily interested in the second complex of issues, which come together in the notion of a poetics of laughter. Eschewing recourse to modern theories of the comic, he focuses on a number of works - chiefly Ulrich's Lanzelet and Wolfram's Parcival, though valuable observations are also made on Hartmann's Arthurian romances, the Tristan romances of Eilhart and Gottfried, and Kudrun; from these narratives he seeks to extract the elements of a poetics which was not codified in contemporary theoretical writings, but which informed the practice of authors who were simultaneously - and this is a significant connection for Seeber - learning to exploit the possibilities of fictional narration and developing a pivotal role for the narrator figure in works produced for courtly society. It is his contention, well supported by close reading of such episodes in Parzival as the hero's encounters with Jeschute in Books 3 and 5, Gawan's sparring with Orgeluse, and the comic rush of Feirefiz to baptism, that laughter is prompted, in many instances through the use of irony, in order to involve the audience in reflection on what they have been shown and in the investing of it with meaning. The narrator figure is a key agent in directing audience responses and in the implementation of a poetics which is regarded as a performative phenomenon. …

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