Thursday, July 28, 2016

King Arthur’s Other German Adaptations (Notes:15)

German Arthurian quest map.



To say a few more words on Gotfried’s “Tristen” text, it is a massive 19,000 line poem of rhyming couplets in which he muses on Christian ideals in relation to knightly virtues (this is a reoccurring theme at this time and should sound familiar). As a writer, scholars have determined that Gotfried must have been well educated and showed a tendency to deride Harkman’s text as overly focused on smoke and mirrors.

Another Author from the German tradition, Elric Slovan, wrote the “Lancelette” at the end of the 12th century. What is unique about his story is that he bases his writings on not French texts but rather earlier Celtic ones. His writings tell of a more tribal oriented Arthur in addition to writing on Lancelot stories which appear nowhere else in the Arthurian tradition and gives prof. Armstrong hope that Lancelot’s a historical figure which simply has had his textual evidence yet to be discovered. Slovan’s story is a Fair Unknown incarnation of where a young Lancelot is raised in a kingdom of magical women until he goes off on adventures to prove his royal blood (or more accurately, discover his royal blood). Ultimately, the story transitions into an abduction, or “Ifid” narrative of Queen Guinevere being captured and in need of rescue.

Another early German Arthurian text is, and I am paraphrasing since the audio was confusing, the “Wingoinova” by Vlaguinbert who writes of a knight travelling to King Arthur’s court so as to offer a magical girdle and challenge Arthur’s knights should the gift be refused. What’s noteworthy about this text is that it marks the beginning of a tradition in Arthurian literature where items have a meaning beyond themselves, where they enable narrative and religious signification ahead of that of mere rudimentary constructs. Aside from this, though, the text has a heavy emphasis on Christianity over Paganism and acts as a sort of precursor to the saintly Galahad stories.

Yet another massive Arthurian text is called “The Crown,” a large 30,041 lines epic, written in 1230, where the author intentionally crams in as many Arthurian texts as possible in order to appeal to as wide a margin of people as possible. The author of the poem, a clear master of all things Arthurian, writes Gawain as gaining the grail, something which does not happen in any other Arthurian legend. The title of the text does not refer to King Arthur’s crown, as may be initially thought, but rather the poem itself, with the ‘crown’ being the structure of the poem, and the various lines as the ‘crown’s’ lines and words.

The German Arthurian tradition, however, begins to decline during the next several centuries with only sporadic translations of French texts occurring. Although the Dutch would find the texts enjoyable, where at the height of their popularity parents naming their children after figures from the legends, only five original Arthurian texts would be produced by Dutch writers; it would be the Prose Lancelot which would be the most popular text.

Franks and Goths (Notes:49)

Historians have long hated equating the fall of the last Roman emperor with the fall of the empire itself; in terms of classes, social stru...