Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Kaiserchronik: A Medieval Narrative

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Kaiserchronik: A Medieval Narrative

Article excerpt

Alastair Matthews, The Kaiserchronik: A Medieval Narrative (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 193 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-965699-8. £68:00.

Alastair Matthews takes on one of the major points of concern when dealing with the Kaiserchronik: so far no overarching theoretical system of interpretation has proven sufficient to fully appreciate the narrative structure of the text. As Matthews notes in his introduction, neither does an encompassing framework of salvation history seem to determine the text, nor has it been possible to locate the Kaiserchronik precisely in the matrix of historiographical, literary, religious, and didactic motifs that gave rise to its composition. Matthews's own approach in the light of these difficulties is to identify and exemplify different theoretical fields of narratological interest through a variety of modern theorems, which are modified to suit the peculiarities of medieval narrative, and applied to selected episodes of the chronicle.

In chapter 2 he aims to illustrate the modelling of time and space in the Constantine/Silvester episode. Using a refined version of Bakhtin's chronotope concept he shows how especially Constantine works as a figure with personal considerations and a certain awareness of narrative potentiality and the capacity to reflect upon it. Furthermore, he manages to identify a conscious textual play with time and space in the passage of Silvester and the dragon. In the next chapter, Matthews illustrates the different kinds of motivation and agency at work in the Kaiserchronik with examples taken from the Charlemagne episode. Here, he combines Martinez's and SchefFel's categories of motivation with Lugowski's terminology to cast doubt on the widespread notion that everything that happens in the Kaiserchronik happens either because of the ramifications of salvation history or to convey a religious-didactic message. In his reading, those considerations are merely one factor amongst other causal forces in play, for example the intentions of the narrative figures.

In chapter 4, the goal is to describe perspective in the episode dealing with Otto the Great by using a modified version of Uspensky's different planes of point of view (time and space, phraseology, psychology, and ideology). …

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