Wirnt von Gravenberg's Wigalois: Intertextuality and Interpretation

Wirnt von Gravenberg's Wigalois: Intertextuality and Interpretation

Neil Thomas


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Reappraisal of Wirnt von Gravenberg's Wigalois, showing how it confronts and takes issue with - rather than simply imitating - earlier German Arthurian romance.
Arthurian romance flourished in medieval Germany, but the pre-eminence of Wolfram von Eschenbach has perhaps overshadowed some of his successors. This book focuses on Wirnt von Gravenberg's Wigalois, the later thirteenth-century Arthurian romance. It argues that whereas authors such as Der Stricker and Der Pleier follow the example of Hartmann von Aue by limiting themselves to an exploration of the pragmatics of the (fictional) chivalric value-system, the lay ethicist Wirnt chooses to examine the spiritual dimension of knightly existence, a theme first broached in the German context by Wolfram in his Grail romance, Parzival.
Wirnt frames his romance as a corrective to that of his predecessor by creating a form of kingship for his hero which is more practicable than Wolfram's millennial 'Grail realm'. Rejecting the notion of an ideal space altogether, Wirnt's naturalistic descriptions of his hero's kingship give expression to a harmonisation of Arthurian and theocratic elements. The author thus suggests that Wigalois is not so much a paler imitation of Parzival as a creative confrontation with the thought-world of its more famous predecessor.


February 2005
180 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Arthurian Studies
ISBN: 9781843840381
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BIC DSB, 1DFG, 2AB, 3H, 4P
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(Makes) a substantial contribution to the understanding of Wirnt's achievement, one that should go a long way toward establishing Wigalois as a major in its own right, not one that needs to stand in the shadow of Parzival and the other "classics". SPECULUM
A fresh guide to a genuine gem of medieval literature. TLS
Neil Thomas has made a substantial contribution to the better understanding of Wigalois and offers a long overdue reassessment of Wirnt's work. JOURNAL of ENGLISH and GERMANIC PHILOLOGY
Offers a comparative, diachronic critical re-reading that provides fresh and persuasive evidence that Wigalois is no pale pastiche. (...) (T)akes thought-provoking, well-argued steps toward explaining Wirnt's poetic rationale and toward finding a place for the romance in German literary history. ARTHURIANA

Author Bio

Dr Neil Thomas is Reader in German in the School of Modern European Languages in the University of Durham.

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