Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona

title.none: Haug, Brechungen auf dem Weg zur Individualitaet

identifier.other: baj9928.9603.004 96.03.04

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1996

identifier.citation: Haug, Walter. Brechungen auf dem Weg zur Individualitaet. Kleinere Schriften zur Literatur des Mittelalters. Tuebingen: Max NiemeyerVerlag, 1995. Pp. xiv + 685. $65. ISBN: ISBN 3-484-10720-0.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 96.03.04

Haug, Walter. Brechungen auf dem Weg zur Individualitaet. Kleinere Schriften zur Literatur des Mittelalters. Tuebingen: Max NiemeyerVerlag, 1995. Pp. xiv + 685. $65. ISBN: ISBN 3-484-10720-0.

Reviewed by:

Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona

Walter Haug can rightly be counted among the leading German medievalists of today. There are only few areas in medieval German literature which would not have been attracted his interest. Except for courtly love poetry, religious and secular drama, and didactic, scientific literature he has discussed representative pieces of almost every genre and every historical period and left an indelible mark on current scholarship. Recently retired from his position as Full Professor at the University of Tuebingen, Haug still can be considered as one of the forerunners in his field. His various monographs have been milestones in Middle High German research, and the same can be said about his many insightful and magisterial articles.

In 1989 Haug republished a collection of his shorter studies written in the few decades before that date; here in the present volume he has put together a collection of articles most of which he has composed in the years since 1989, the only exception being his investigations of German mystical literature dating back to the 1980s. Instead of working on a one volume literary history, Haug attempts to approach this task with the help of individual approaches and specialized interpretations.

The articles are arranged according to topics, not chronologically. In the first subgroup are combined essays of a more global nature, focusing on structural, aesthetic, and cultural aspects, on the emergence of fictionality in the Middle Ages, the role of the literary canon, and on the difference between medieval and early modern concepts of life.

The second section is dedicated to heroic poetry, in particular to the questions about the dialectic relationship of orality and literacy, genre aspects, and a specific interpretation of the Old High German "Hildebrandslied."

The third section consists of articles on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival; the fourth covers Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan; the fifth contains articles dealing with late-medieval German literature; the next section explores short rhymed verse narratives (here Haug examines primarily the development from the Pancatantra to Boccaccio's Decameron, Marguerite de Navarra's Heptameron, and attempts to outline a theory of medieval novella literature).

The seventh section includes studies on medieval mysticism, especially on Mechthild von Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, and Nicholas of Cues. At the end follows a separate bibliography for all articles collected in this volume, a list of where the articles had appeared in print first, and an index of the authors and works cited.

Walter Haug has an incredible skill in synthesizing and summarizing many different observations and interpretations. His articles are masterpieces of critical examinations both on a very abstract level and in very concrete, detailed terms. Moreover, he deserves our full recognition as an excellent writer himself, as the reading of his studies is joyful by itself in stylistic terms. In other words, there are many good reasons why his scholarly investigations deserve to be collected and reprinted in this highly pleasing volume.

Nevertheless, many of his articles have appeared in well respected and authoritative journals and festschriften, such as the festschrift for Klaus von See (1988), the festschrift for Karl Stackmann (1987), the anthology ed. by Aleida and Jan Assmann (1987), and the festschrift for Heinrich Beck (1994). Many of his studies were published in journals such as Deutsch- unterricht, Beitraege/Tuebingen, Wolfram-Studien, and Theologische Zeitschrift. Moreover, a considerable number of Haug's articles were included in anthologies edited by himself and Burghart Wachinger in the reputable series "Fortuna Vitrea." As much as the reviewer is highly pleased to find all these important contributions to the study of Middle High German literature, written by Walter Haug, combined in one volume, many libraries might and should wonder whether the purchase of this very expensive volume (DM 298.) really might be justified. Some of Haug's studies have appeared in print only very recently, several will appear in print soon, thus making this collection, in a way, to a duplication. On the other hand, Haug's research is of a very high caliber, deserving of this recognition. A collection of his articles, then, serves two purposes. First, here we meet German medieval scholarship at its best, and secondly, Haug's articles begin to form a unity when read together or in sequence.