overwhelming odds and results in the death of the lovers. The French prose versions show this attitude in its crudest form, while the poem of Gottfried von Strassburg is its most subtle exploitation, for here the weakness of the courtly morality is exposed not by opposing it to a highly religious love concept but by demonstrating the simple inability of a society allegedly organized for love and adventure to comprehend love when it is expressed in terms higher than purely sensual attraction. Gottfried shatters the whole romance conception by showing its adventures to be self-seeking and hollow pretence and its love-service little more than vulgar intrigue. 16
In discussing the romance we are faced, as we said at the beginning of this essay, with a paradox. The romance as a genre developed a life of its own and certain rules by which its deliberately unreal life was to be governed. It also pursued as its principal motifs the pointless combat and love-service, both of no significance in a socially oriented genre. Yet when these game-rules were established, the way was open for them to be interpreted in any way an author chose and the great writers of romance chose, for the most part, to study individual behavior by setting it in the unreal world of the romance and showing how, by rising above the rules of the genre, the human being could fulfill himself, for the romance is the genre of the individual. It should not surprise us that critics have found much to allegorize in the romance, for it is the verbum in one of its many shapes.