Imagens das páginas

of style; but Andrea writes, at least, good "journalese," and his Reali di Francia is certainly an improvement on a somewhat similar attempt, the wretched Table Bound of Eusticiano da Pisa, of a century previous. The latter, however, was in French.

In Germany there is not much to arrest attention. The most striking phenomenon is the persistent influence of Wolfram von Eschenbach,

German Epics. ,

tokens o1 which meet us at every turn. Not that the disciples inherited aught of the master's genius—his mantle fell upon none of them—but there is abundant evidence to prove that it was the great illiterate rather than his more polished contemporaries that the "epigoni" were for the most part ambitious of emulating. Coleridge, speaking in relation to Faust, gives it almost as an axiom that continuations are foredoomed to failure. If this be true of labours undertaken by the original author, how much more likely is it to be true of mere nachwerk or imitation? No such reflection, however, deterred Claus Wisse and Philipp Colin from entering on an Erweiterung of Wolfram's Parzival. Colin had been a goldsmith at Strassburg, and in an epilogue addressed to his patron, Herr Ulrich von Rappolstein, expresses the hope that the profits of the work will enable him to resume business! The Erweiterung was executed between 1331 and 1336. It was based on continuations of Chrestien's poem by Gautier de Dourdans, Manessier, and other French writers, and the chief addition, comprising 30,000 lines, is interpolated between the thirteenth and fourteenth book of Wolfram's ParzivaZ, the last two books being also materially enlarged. The translation, completed with the help of a Jewish interpreter, Samuel Pine, is remarkable for nothing but its fidelity. The verse is scandalous. Many lines exceed their proper tale of syllables, and the rhymes are often of the sorriest description.

Another example of the epic-aftermath is Friedrich von Schwaben, of which the first portion is grounded on Konrad von Wiirzburg's Partonopier und Meliur, while names and motives have been borrowed, slightly altered, from Gottfried and Veldeke. Far more important than even these coincidences is the fact that the later adventure is taken direct from the Wieland saga. This conjunction of popular legend and court-epic is a veritable sign of the times. We meet with it again in Albrecht von Scharfenberg's Seitfried von Ardemont, which, however, is known to us only by an excerpt in TJlrich Fiitrer's Booh of Adventures. These late epics are invariably long, invariably dry, and invariably clumsy, and those which exist in print would certainly not repay analysis. The MSS. are not all of equal merit. Those of Friedrich are faulty and fragmentary, while in the case of the Erweiterung— such, at least, is the belief—the original text has been preserved.

More in accord with the spirit of the age is the coarse realism of the epic in the countries adjoining the Ehine. This realism is undoubtedly

Ihitch influence. 1 . n

due to the influence of the Netherlands, which served as a halting-place for French chansons de geste, especially those relating to Charlemagne, in


v their passage to Germany. The tendency before observed to pile up Pelion on Ossa, and Ossa on Olympus once more discloses itself in a gigantic compilation which, unlike Fiitrer's rather similar work in the next century, makes no pretence to recast the material. Apart from verbal alterations— by no means consistent or complete—adapting them to his own dialect, the Franconian editor simply reproduces various Dutch and German poems, his own additions being relatively unimportant. The title Karlmeinet {i.e., "little Charles ") is appropriate only to the commencement.

Lastly, the allegorical romance is represented by Die Jagd, the work of a distinguished Bavarian knight, Hadamar von Laber. The chase in ques

DieJagd. . . ^

tion is courtship, and the hunter, preceded by his heart as by a hound, pursues after the quarry —i.e., the beloved object. Other hounds are Happiness, Pleasure, Love, Consolation, Fidelity, while spies, as endangering the success of the quest, are symbolised by wolves. The poem is open to all the objections to which all allegory is exposed. It is childish and unreal; and yet, as an expression of the chivalrous spirit—especially in its reverence for woman—it is far above the average epio of the time. Allegory was not a novel feature in German literature. It had been used by Konrad in his Klage der Kunst, and by Heinzelin von Constanz in the introduction to Der Minne Lire. Isolated examples occur also in Tristan and other chivalrous poems, while, in the religious sphere, a notable instance is the allegorico-mystical poetry of Bruder Lamprecht von Kegensburg, where, e.g., the soul is figured as a lady who looks after her lover from the battlements. Die Jagd is written, not in the ordinary epic verse, the couplet, but in the Titurel or four-lined stanza.

In Iceland the art of the Scalds died, as it were, in the odour of sanctity. An important work, compariceiandic able in breadth and fulness to the Heliand, Hmur. was the Lilja of the Augustinian monk Eystein Asgrimsson (t 1360)—a poem respecting the life, death, and sufferings of Christ. Two drdpur on Bishop Gudmund, by Arngrim Brandsson and Abbot Arni Jonson, are composed in the octosyllabic drottkvaett stanza. A third on the same subject, by Einar Gilsson, marked the transition to a new sort of verse, the rimur, which appear to have been connected with the Low German rimels. This poetry, like that of the Scalds, is alliterative, while it preserves also the pictorial style of the Jcenningar (periphrases). But the interior rhyme, owing apparently to foreign influence, is replaced by the end-rhyme, and the four-lined visur or stanzas resemble, from a metrical standpoint, not so much the old Scald-verse as the Danish kdmpevisen. It is rarely, and only in the older poems, that we meet with a single rima forming a complete whole. The later examples are in sets or sequences. The rima is introduced by a mansongr, or love-ditty, usually the poet's complaint on his illsuccess. This furnishes the lyrical element in the composition. The rima, proper is epic in character, and its subjects are drawn from existing sogur. In essence the rima was a dance-song, and this circumstance suggests what its epic quality confirms—a certain likeness to the English ballad. The majority of Hmur still only exist in manuscript, a goodly number in the library at Wolfenbiittel. As, however, the first complete specimen—Einar's 6lafsrima—dates from 1398, it is clear that the matter is not fully within our jurisdiction.

The decline of the frdsaga, that peculiarly northern institution, is marked by the coexistence of fornsbgur Fomsogarand and lygisogur. The former are based on tfgUBgur. sagas and myths, while the latter, as is implied by their not too complimentary description, are inventions, and so correspond in a sense to romans d'aventure. In practice, it is not always easy to discriminate between them, as the mythical sogur often contain much ill - authenticated episodical matter, while the lygisogur, as is often the way with writings of the aventure class, have a substratum of myth vaguely present to the mind of the narrator.

Two sagas of about this period are particularly interesting, inasmuch as they connect with an earlier The saga of branch of Icelandic literature—the EddaHervdr. songs, to which they stand related much as do French prose - romances to the more ancient metrical versions. These are the Jfervararsaga ok Heidreks Konungs and the Orvar Oddssaga. The former is named from the elder Hervor, daughter of Argantyr, and her son Heidrek; and the pivotal idea is the curse-laden sword Tyrfing, to possess which means death. This fatal gift Hervor receives from her

« AnteriorContinuar »