Courtly novel

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The courtly novel is the epic large form (genre) of courtly poetry . He uses old saying substances which, by the Crusades widened courtly culture accordingly to Celtic , ancient and oriental sources were taken. The main characters of this poetry of the High Middle Ages are the knights living at the royal courts . There are different explanations about the authors of this poem. Based on the writing style and the formal, linguistic structure, either minstrels or clergy or the knights themselves come into question as authors.

Three major themes formed the basis for most of the epics, "novels":

Central concepts of courtly poetry are love (the serving love relationship between the knight and a lady of society) and the joyful attitude towards life carried by society as a whole (the "hôhe muot" ).

The courtly epic gives an idealized picture of the courtly world. The content is usually a series of adventures ( aventiuren ) which the knight undertakes in honor of the beloved lady (or in honor of the court); the form of the novel is usually the four-part rhyming pair. The development of the courtly novel began in France with the ancient novels . The master of the French knight epic ( Arthurian novel ) was Chrétien de Troyes . The first courtly novel by Heinrich von Veldeke comes from German-speaking areas ( Eneasroman , written between 1170 and 1190 after a French adaptation of Virgil's Aeneid ). Next to Hartmann von Aue ( Erec 1180, Iwein 1202) and Gottfried von Straßburg ( Tristan , between 1200 and 1210) stands Wolfram von Eschenbach with his Grail epic Parzival (around 1200–1210).

Further examples

Research problem

The early German studies saw portrayals of real life in the Middle Ages in the courtly novels. Today it is generally assumed that the texts only present ideal ideas and should be viewed more as contributions to the discourse than as realistic descriptions. The frequent references to (sometimes imagined) sources as well as the language style of numerous texts gave the impression of historiographical writing or a hybrid of historiography and entertainment texts . Medieval novels are sometimes only preserved in a few manuscripts and form the transition between oral tradition and the written culture that was spread through book printing from 1500 onwards .

It is unclear whether the texts were intended as manuscripts for reading aloud (sometimes for a larger audience) or for individual reading. There is also the opinion that some texts were created with the interest of recording certain events or memories of events. There was no clear separation between historiography and narrative texts. In many texts there are direct and indirect references to events and people from the time they were written. Thus, every text can potentially be based on at least one of several motivations:

  • Didax: instruction on ideal behavior, rituals
  • Handing down: preservation, fixation of traditional stories, narratives
  • Historiography: recording of (recent or long past) events, memories of people
  • Legitimation: place a current event or a living person in an (imagined) historical context and thus underline its importance
  • Certificate of power: having your own (artistically designed) copy of a manuscript (mostly popular material) created underlines the client's education and wealth
  • Entertainment: possibly a lecture in front of a larger audience, often with a variation of the material or topic

There are very different literary variations of many topics and stories, some of which reveal clear individual traits of the author. In courtly novels, the authors mention their names in a prominent place and independently redesign the material they find. Until the middle of the 11th century this was less common, in the history of literature there is talk of an increasing self-confidence of authors.

Numerous novels presented themselves as "transcriptions" from other languages ​​or relied on written sources or witnesses; but most of them deal with the given material very freely and hardly meet today's criteria for a text transmission. There was no plagiarism in today's sense, rather a general intertextuality is assumed. Due to the effort and expense of a manuscript, every text needs a client or patron . The poet or author puts his skills at the service of the commission or client and the text.

See also