German Literature of the Early Middle Ages

German Literature of the Early Middle Ages

Edited by Brian Murdoch


Camden House



A detailed, contextualized picture of the very beginnings of writing in German from around 750 to 1100.
This second volume of the set not only presents a detailed picture of the beginnings of writing in German from its first emergence as a literary language from around 750 to 1100, but also places those earliest writings into a context. The first stages of German literature existed within a manuscript culture, so careful consideration is given to what constitutes the actual texts, but German literature also arose within a society that had recently been Christianized -- through the medium of Latin. Therefore what we understand by literature in Germany at this early period must include a great amount of writing in Latin. Thus the volume looks in detail at Latin works in prose and verse, but with an eye upon the interaction between Latin and German writings. Some of the material in the newly written German language is not literary in the modern sense of the word, but makes clear the difficulties and indeed the triumphs of the establishing of a written literary language. Individual chapters look first at the earliest translations and functional literature in German (including charms and prayers); next, the examination of heroic material juxtaposes the Hildebrandlied with the Christian Ludwigslied and with Latin writings like Waltharius and the panegyrics; Otfrid's work -- the Gospel-poem in German -- is given its due prominence; the smaller German texts and the later prose works are fully treated; as is chronicle-writing in German and Latin. Old High German literature was a trickle compared to the flood of the Latin that surrounded (and influenced) it, but its importance is undeniable: that trickle became a river.
Contributors: Linda Archibald, Graeme Dunphy, Stephen Penn, Christopher Wells, Jonathan West, Brian Murdoch.
Brian Murdoch is Professor of German at the University of Stirling, Scotland.

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March 2004
7 black and white illustrations
300 pages
9x6 in
Camden House History of German Literature
ISBN: 9781571132406
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT011000
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Table of Contents

Introduction -
Into German: The Language of the Earliest German Literature - Jon West
Charms, Recipes, and Prayers -
Latin Prose: Latin Writing in the Frankish World, 700-1100 - Linda Archibald
Latin Verse - Stephen Penn
Heroic Verse -
Otfrid of Weissenburg - Linda Archibald
The Shorter German Verse Texts - Christopher Wells
Historical Writing in and after the Old High German Period - R. Graeme Dunphy
Late Old High German Prose - Jon West


A fine addition to English-language scholarship on the topic. Highly recommended. CHOICE

... fills a void in the scholarship.... offer[s] a fresh look at the core texts of the early medieval period and the context in which they were produced.... [This is] a carefully edited book. Students and teachers/scholars will benefit from the concise and stimulating analysis of core texts, as well as from the very helpful notes, bibliography of primary and secondary literature, and index. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Students of Old High German language and literature will greatly profit from this solid collection of articles. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

This volume ... provides access for non-specialists to texts and issues involving the works of the Old High German period. In his introduction, Murdoch offers a concise look at the dizzying array of pertinent territorial, linguistic, orthographic, and codicological issues.... The essays themselves are clearly written, and assume very little knowledge of the subject matter. GERMAN QUARTERLY

A solidly written, carefully crafted and thorough introduction to the history of German literature of the early medieval period. Brian Murdoch and his volume authors have succeeded in publishing a standard work for the Anglo-Saxon world. For German readers the book is a welcome supplement to existing literary histories. MEDIAEVISTIK

The first two volumes in the Camden House History of German Literature together provide the reader with an admirably innovative guide to tackling the earliest literature in German and in related Germanic languages. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

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