Anne Berthelot

title.none: Andersen, et al., Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter (Berthelot)

identifier.other: baj9928.0004.009 00.04.09

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Anne Berthelot, University of Connecticut,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2000

identifier.citation: Andersen, Elizabeth, Jens Haustein, Anne Simon, Peter Strohschneider, eds. Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter. Kolloquium Meissen, 1995. Tuebingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1998. Pp. 415. $178.00. ISBN: 3-484-10750-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 00.04.09

Andersen, Elizabeth, Jens Haustein, Anne Simon, Peter Strohschneider, eds. Autor und Autorschaft im Mittelalter. Kolloquium Meissen, 1995. Tuebingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1998. Pp. 415. $178.00. ISBN: 3-484-10750-2.

Reviewed by:

Anne Berthelot
University of Connecticut

This volume contains the proceedings of a conference which took place in Meissen in 1995 and gathered German and British scholars on the sensitive topic of author, authorship and authority in medieval German Literature. It is in itself a fascinating topic, and most of the approaches set up in the book--which encompass a variety of subjects, chronologically as well as theoretically--are most interesting. However, as often with such proceedings, there is a definite lack of unity, indeed emphasized in this case by the absence of any attempt to sum up general conclusions. Each and every article may be quite thought-provoking, or innovative, or may present an accurate image of state-of-the-art scholarship about an author or a theme; all in all, they do not mix together, and one could hardly derive any global opinions about the author question in German literature between 1150 and 1550 from this volume. This is, maybe, inevitable, in so far as the answers explicitly or implicitly given to this range of problems by medieval authors are widely different: they would not add up to form a systematic vision of authorship and author, the more so since in many respects the whole topic is a modern invention. Twentieth century scholars tend to study medieval works in the light of theoretical concepts which are not always appropriate to such objects. Accordingly, it is all the most difficult to impose a global interpretation on some heterogeneous material which has its own agenda. Contrary to A. Minnis' remarkable book Medieval theory of Authorship, this volume provides numerous insights on various works and writers, but does not construct any working theoretical apparatus allowing the reader to address the issue at hand as a whole. This is, however, almost the only drawback of a very rich collection of articles, and it is in some measure lessened by the fact that, more often than not, there are two different contributions about one author or work, allowing for different, sometimes complementary, approaches.

A few articles do not belong to this category, however, and just stand alone; indeed, this hapazard juxtaposition of articles is the main defect of a volume ranging from Horst Wenzel's study of the different ways a message may be transmitted through writers/scribes' images in manuscript miniatures ("Autorenbilder. Zur Ausdifferenzierung von Autorenfunktionen in mittelalterlichen Miniaturen") to Heike Sahm's analysis of Durer's "Familienchronik" and the dialectic relation between tradition and innovation in the artist's first-person narrative ("Durer als Autor"). In fact, Wenzel's contribution, as well as Almut Suerbaum's "Accessus ad auctores: Autorkonzeptionen in mittelalterlichen Kommentartexten", which looks into the "secondary literature" of the Middle Ages, serve as a Prologue to the volume's main issue, the study of the author/authorship concepts in vernacular literary works.

In a short contribution, "Zu den mittelhochdeutschen Bezeichnungen fur den Verfasser literarischer Werk", Kurt Gaertner then comes to the point, in studying a few words used during the Middle Ages to speak about the "author" or the writer of a text. However, his conclusions are not especially new ("meister" appears more often to describe great authors like Wolfram or Gottfried von Strassburg, but "tihter", the meaning of which is not exactly the modern "Dichter", tends to replace it later in the period) and Gaertner does seem to apologize for addressing only marginally, as it were, the topic of the conference.

The following articles proceed more or less chronologically: Ernst Hellgardt, in "Anonymitat und Autornamen zwischen Mundlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit in der deutschen Literatur des elften und zwolften Jahrhunderts. Mit Vorbemerkungen zu einigen Autornamen der altenglischen Dichtung", reviews the different degrees of "self-reference" represented in eleventh and twelfth century texts. There is, regrettably, a typo in the title (Anomymitat, repeated on each odd header), the length of which serves only to emphasize how marginally this contribution bears on the conference topic. It is, presumably, a good catalog, but the theory underlining it is neither original nor very solid. Besides, it tries to encompass too many works, belonging to a too large time span, so that the conclusions can only be very general. On the other hand, Manfred Eikelmann, in "Autoritat und ethischer Diskurs. Zur Verwendung von Sprichwort und Sentenz in Hartmanns von Aue 'Iwein'", focuses on one text only. However, he tends to address too many issues, only loosely related to the main topic: most peculiarly, the difficult problem of the relationship between proverbial enonces and author's voice in a text. Nine pages of very complete tables presenting all proverbs, proverbial sentences and authorial comments in Iwein crown this very polemical article. They fail, however, to win the reader's conviction.

On the contrary, Nikolaus Henkel's relatively short contribution, with the modest title "Wer verfasste Hartmanns von Aue Lied XII? Uberlegungen zu Autorschaft und Werkbegriff in der hofischen Liebeslyrik", uses Hartmann's Lied XII as a pretext to an accurate and fascinating study of the vagaries of solitary strophes attributed to various authors in various manuscripts, and suggests a sound policy to deal with such editing problems. The scope of Elisabeth Lienert's "Hera Walther, wie ez mir stat. Autorschaft und Sangerrolle im Minnesang bis Neidhart" is considerably larger, since she enrolls a number of Minnesanger in her study of the distinctions between author, narrator, narrating voice, and persona in poetic discourse. Her work, based on the principles of narratology, is not always entirely convincing, but her rich and complex analysis, sometimes almost too subtle, does ask fundamental questions and suggest interesting answers. These two contributions contitute, from this reviewer's point of view, the high point of the volume. Wolfgang Haubrichs' article, "Die Epiphanie der Person. Zum Spiel mit Biographiefragmenten in mittelhochdeutscher Lyrik des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts", is comparatively a little disappointing: it consists of a not very original and not quite convincing discussion about the slippery question of "literary subjectivity". Too many quotations are left to demonstrate the author's argument as well as they can. They do not succeed. Sebastian Coxon, in "Zur Form und Funktion einiger Modelle der Autorenselbstdarstellung in der mittelhochdeutschen Heldenepik: 'Wolfdietrich' und 'Dietrichs Flucht'", attacks the problem from an original angle: instead of focusing on lyric poetry, naturally more prone to self reflection, he analyses how the narrative content of the Dietrichsepik is linked to a running commentary spiced with satirical allusions, more explicit still in the "sensitive", as it were, parts of the text, prologue and epilogue.

Franz-Joseph Holznagel explores the issues of attribution and signature for a number of short texts by the Stricker. It is a very technical, but very serious contribution, quite convincing, although it lacks a certain amount of enthusiasm. ("Autorschaft und Uberlieferung am Beispiel der kleineren Reimpaartexte des Strickers") Matthias Meyer ("'Objektivierung als Subjektivierung'. Zum Sanger im spaten Minnesang") uses Konrad von Würzburg' very eroticized poetry as a departure for his brilliant analysis and defense of the concept of a lyrical "Ich" ("I"); his juggling with the apparently contradictory notions of objective vs subjective poetry is more than convincing, and opens new perspectives for research in this area, as well as it offers insights not only on a few Minnesanger, but on a great number of medieval lyrical poets, especially in the French and Occitan areas.

Volker Mertens' "Liebesdichtung und Dichterliebe. Ulrich von Liechtenstein und Johannes Hadloub" may be read as a transition between Meyer's and Kiening's articles: it has in common with the first its attention to the problems of medieval "Ich- Dichtung", and with the second its focus on Ulrich von Liechtenstein, in this case associated with the less known Johannes Hadloub. As Mertens' title shows, he focuses ont the dialectic between "love poetry" and "love of poetry", revisiting the old equivalence posited by Occitan troubadours by a thorough exploration of the more modern concept of "pseudo-autobiography".

Christian Kiening, in "Der Autor als 'Leibeigener' der Dame - oder des Textes? Das Erzahlsubjekt und sein Korper im 'Frauendienst' Ulrichs von Liechtenstein", is also considering Ulrich von Liechtenstein, more peculiarly his famous Frauendienst. He gives a very post-modern, very brilliant analyses about body-control strategies in Ulrich's text and their relationship to writing; despite his maestria, however, Kiening does not entirely succeed in convincing the reader, and a faint suggestion of "hors-sujet" lingers about his demonstration.

Klaus Ridder, with "Die Inszenierung des Autors im 'Reinfried von Braunschweig'. Intertextualitat im spathofischen Roman", undertakes a different approach: studying the comparatively less famous Reinfried von Braunschweig, he reads "the hero's crisis as a crisis of the narrative strategies" (246) and accordingly focuses not only on the obvious indices provided by the text margins (the prologue for instance), but also on the signs of dysfunction inside the story.

Beate Kellner ("Vindelse. Konturen von Autorschaft in Frauenlobs 'Selbstruhmung' und im 'wip-vrowe-Streit") and Suzanne Koebele ("Der Liedautor Frauenlob. Poetologische und überlieferungsgeschichtliche Uberlegungen") address the question of self-definition and self-representation in "Frauenlobs"'s works. Starting from the problematic arrangement of strophes in a poem by Frauenlob, Kellner engages on a very technical approach, before using the medieval "discussion" (to put it mildly) about the comparative values of wip and vrowe (woman and lady, more or less) to articulate the uneasy relationship between rhetoric and the sciences of language. The contrast with Koebele is all the more striking, because she chooses a much more lively and rather more didactic approach than her predecessor; one may wonder whether it would not have been better to reverse the order of these two contributions, for Koebele offers an easier, although not entirely convincing, reading of Frauenlob as author of "Lieder".

Nigel F. Palmer, in "Der Autor und seine Geliebte. Literarische Fiktion und Autobiographie im 'Ackermann aus Bohmen' des Johannes von Tepl", and Jurgen Schulz-Grobert, with "[...] die feder mein pflug. Schreiberpoesie, Grammatik- Ikonographie und das gelehrte Bild des 'Ackermann'", focus both on Johannes von Tepl's Ackermann aus Bohmen. While Palmer rather naively tracks down the discrepancies between the author and his character's biographies, in order to eventuyally interpret the figure of Margarete in the text as an allegory of virtue, Schulz-Grobert addresses more technical issues; he especially studies the well-known metaphor of writing as ploughing, and the various images that derive of this conception. His article closes on a pretty image of an "Ackermann" sowing in a field, under the title "Grammatim" in a 1493 printed book of the "Seven Liberal Arts".

Alan Robertshaw, in "Der spatmittelalterliche Autor als Herausgeber seiner Werke: Oswald von Wolkenstein und Hugo von Montfort", addresses a rather different problem: how writers of the later period (fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) tend to become the privileged editors of their own work and, in so doing, assume new roles in the literary constellation, as corrector, censor, and eventually agent. John L. Flood, in "Offene Geheimnisse. Versteckte und verdeckte Autorschaft im Mittelalter", focuses on the various ways an author has to reveal his name while pretending to hide behind the letters and words of his text. Too many samples of acronyms, anagrams, and other types of play with the signifier fail, however, to build a coherent theory of the meaning and function of such games.

These two articles, albeit somewhat decentre compared with most contributions to the volume, do bring interesting information and suggest new approaches to the topic. One cannot say as much about Annette Volfing's article, "Autopoetische Aussagen in der meisterlichen Liedkunst": despite a promising title, she tends to pursue her own agenda, culminating with the edition of the two poems on which her analysis focuses. She does give a very precise, and probably quite correct, reading of her Lieder, but she fails to indicate how her study relates to the main topic of the book.

There is much to interest in this book; it is somewhat unfortunate that the contributors apparently intended it to be of use only to readers fluent in Middle High German. Although most contributions are of course focused on German literature, the issues debated in several contributions have repercussions in other languages as well. It might have been advisable to provide a translation for the MHD quotations, especially since the theoretical argument of an article often depends on the interpretation of certain passages. The Index nominum (Register) at the end of the volume is very helpful, but it might have been a good idea to give a few bibliographical hints, considering the wealth of references that the authors take into account in their contributions. On the whole, this volume seems to be destined for a small number of readers, already conversant with its topic. It is interesting, often thought-provoking, but too scattered to really contribute to a general study of the notions of "author and authorship in the Middle Ages."