Article

Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Albrecht Classen

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online September 2014 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0163
Wolfram Von Eschenbach

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
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Even though Wolfram von Eschenbach’s contemporary Gottfried von Straßburg seems to have disliked his colleague, as we can tell from a disparaging remark in the latter’s literary excursus in his Tristan (c. 1210), Wolfram’s audiences throughout the Middle Ages and his readers today have both paid greatest respect to this extraordinary writer. He created primarily three major works: his Parzival (c. 1205), Books 3 to 13 of which are based on Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval le Gallois or Le Conte du Graal (c. 1170–1190); Willehalm (c. 1210–1220), based on the Old French genre of the chanson de geste, specifically the Bataille d’Aliscans (c. 1180–1190); and his Titurel fragments (c. 1220), which consist of a most original tale with some loose narrative threads from Parzival, here taken up and developed further, leading to a tragic outcome, as far as we can tell. Wolfram also composed a number of remarkable “dawn songs,” in which he partly embarked on a new discourse on marital love. Apart from some biographical allusions in his texts, often rather satirical, we know really nothing about this poet, which is quite typical of that time. However, we can be certain that he originated from Franconia, today in northern Bavaria; received a considerable education, which certainly included French, perhaps even some Arabic; and enjoyed highest respect for his glorious, but also rather mystifying texts, especially his Grail romance, s24 Parzival. Wolfram was well connected with the territorial prince Hermann, Landgrave of Thuringia, who resided in the Wartburg in Eisenach, and also with the lords of Durne who resided in the Wildenberg Castle near Amorbach and with their neighbor Count Wertheim. We can be certain that Wolfram belonged to the noble class, because he proudly displays his status as a knight and is presented as one (although his face is not shown) in the famous Manesse manuscript (c. 1300–1310). Wolfram was familiar with much of contemporary literature and drew from French sources for his own works. According to the latest count, Wolfram’s Parzival has come down to us in eighty-seven manuscripts, while his Willehalm has survived in seventy-nine manuscripts, both figures confirming the huge appeal that these narratives exerted. The Titurel, however, is extant only in three manuscripts, whereas his dawn songs are contained in four manuscripts. For the latest status regarding Wolfram manuscripts, see the Marburger Repertorium, or Handschriftencensus online.

Article.  13940 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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