Stephen Mark Carey

title.none: Tobin, Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry (Stephen Mark Carey)

identifier.other: baj9928.0209.019 02.09.19

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Stephen Mark Carey, Emory University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Tobin, Frank, Kim Vivian and Richard H. Lawson, trans. with commentary. Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry: The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue. University Park, PA.: Pennsylvania State University Press., 2001. Pp. viii, 329. $65. ISBN: $22.50 0-271-02112-8.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.09.19

Tobin, Frank, Kim Vivian and Richard H. Lawson, trans. with commentary. Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry: The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue. University Park, PA.: Pennsylvania State University Press., 2001. Pp. viii, 329. $65. ISBN: $22.50 0-271-02112-8.

Reviewed by:

Stephen Mark Carey
Emory University

Frank Tobin, Kim Vivian, and Richard Lawson's translation of the complete works of Hartmann von Aue provides a welcome opportunity to introduce this great author to a wider audience both on and off college campuses. Composed in last decade of the twelfth century and the first decade of the thirteenth, Hartmann's oeuvre lends itself to courses taught across the curriculum, offering a wide range of genres: crusading lyric and Minnesang, lyrical lament, two Arthurian Romances, and two medieval legends which contain elements of hagiographic tales and miracle stories. Each text is prefaced with a brief introductory essay. The introductions and text commentary in the translation are by no means overbearing or philological but very much geared to provide the casual reader access to these texts. The introductions place Hartmann's work within a social and literary-historical context and set the stage for exploring comparative elements from other works and traditions. The translation provides accurate and tempered English reproductions of Hartmann's text with explanations of terms intended for beginners but with the inclusion of enough advanced information and German terms that those interested in pursuing the texts further have a good starting point. In general there is a great deal to like about this translation, especially the fact that the line numbers are given and the notes point out most of the major critical debates regarding the texts themselves.

The general introduction glosses over the social and literary context in which Hartmann produced these works and then briefly touches on what is known about Hartmann. The authors also state their intention "to capture some of the flavor of the medieval way of viewing and expressing things without resorting to obsolete and antiquated formulations foreign to our audience" (xiii). They also emphasize the collaborative nature of the project as a whole and how each translation came into being through a dialogue between all of the translators and the readers Ed Haymes, Jim Walter, and Frank Gentry. The first text in the anthology is Frank Tobin's translation of the Lament. This didiatic poem was recorded in 1517 by Hans Ried in service of Emperor Maximillian I in the famous Ambraser Heldenbuch. Modeled after the scholastic disputatio, and often disparaged as juvenilia, this debate between the body and heart is a tremendously underestimated expression of the traumatic nature of unrequited desire certainly worthy of broader consideration under the rubric of trauma. It certainly provides insight into the trope of love and misery: "I am convinced that no man ever gained love without enduring misery (K. 791; Ja [enwaene] ie dehein man ane kumber liep gewan.)." Tobin's translations of the lyrical works follow the Lament, which includes both an introduction to the section as a whole as well as an introduction to each poem. Tobin translates the eighteen poems from Minnesangs-Fruehling, noting those with disputed authorship. Although some of main Middle High German terms are given in the introduction to this section, neither the Middle High German title not the MF numbers are given for any of poems. Tobin's translations are very close to the text and read quite well. Here is an example from MF 207,11:

Ich sprach, ich wolte ir iemer leben, daz liez ich wite maere komen. mîn herze hete ich ir gegeben, daz hân ich nû von ir genomen.

I said I wanted to live always for her I let this be known far and wide. I had given my heart to her. Now I have taken it back from her.

This section is followed by Kim Vivian's translations of Erec and Gregorius. By this point, it becomes very clear that the translators were careful to work in conjunction so that the key terms in Hartmann's repertoire are translated consistently throughout the anthology, like the consistent translation of "lip" as "body." Vivian's translation of Erec delivers an accurate replication of the Middle High German in English without sacrificing eloquence. Enite's lament upon the apparent death of her husband, Erec, provides a good example:

unde habe ich mînen man, sît ich in von êrste gewan, verworht an ihtes ihte mit muote oder von geschihte alsô daz ez niht wol gezimt, ob mir in dîn gewalt danne nimt, daz selbe reht vinde ich mir, wan ichs von rehte danne enbir. enhân aber ich des niht getân, des soltû mich geniezen lân: herre, sô erbarme dich durch dîne güete über mich unde heiz mir in leben. (Erec, 5808 -5820)

And if I, ever since gaining my husband, have broughy any ruin whatever every upon him through any thoughts or deeds that were not proper, I shall find it just if Your power takes him from me, for it is just that I do without him. But if I have not done that, the You should not punish me. Lord have mercy on me then in Your goodness and let him live for my sake.

Vivian translates this poem, and Gregorius which follows it, with equal finesse. This is then followed by Tobin's painstaking translation of Poor Henry, which like all the texts in the anthology, is accompanied by notes which should be of great help to beginners. Lawson's translation of the Iwein that completes the volume provides a fresh and vibrant read without sacrificing accuracy as the famous opening lines attest: "He who turns his mind to true goodness will be attended by happiness and honor. (Iw. 1-3, Swer an rehte guete /wendet sin gemuete, dem volget saelde und ere.)

Ultimately one must ask about the intention of a given work. The intention of this work is quite clearly to make Hartmann's works accessible to those who cannot speak German and are not experts, or even aspiring experts, in Medieval German Literature. There are some minor complaints that one might make. One might expect to find at least mention of Thomas Mann's The Holy Sinner in the introduction to Gregorius, but with very few exceptions one can hardly find fault with this well executed and welcome anthology. Similarly, the introduction to Poor Henry alludes to legends possibly informing the tale like those of Silvester and Engelhard. However, one must ask if this information is really necessary given the intended audience of the anthology. In his review, Albrecht Classen comments on some "erroneous statements and viewpoints" particularly Tobin's reference in the introduction of the Lament to Capellanus's relationship and activity at Marie de Champagne's court in Potiers (Rocky Mountain Review. Spring 2002: 95-96). He also notes that the translations are not based on the most recent editions of the text. In that vein, one might also question the chronology as well. Following Claude Luttrell we might propose the following time table for Chrétien de Troyes oeuvre: Erec, 1184-86; Cligés, 1185-87; Yvain (first phase of composition), 1186-87; Le Chevalier de la Charrete, 1187-88; Yvain (second phase of composition), 1188-89; Perceval, 1189-90. This would require a dating of Hartmann's works as follows: Klage, Minnelieder, Erec (begun around 1190), Iwein (first phase of composition completed before 1196), Gregorius and Kreuzlieder (completed before 1197), Der Arme Heinrich (after 1199), and Iwein (second phase of composition completed before 1205). However, many of these points are disputable and, as Classen notes, failure to take into consideration these recent, and in some cases debatable, perspectives in the critical literature really does not detract from this fine achievement. Moreover, the bibliography of the anthology could hardly function as anything more than a general introduction because -- apropos the intended audience of the anthology -- it lists no works in any language other than English. In short, this text is perfect for introducing Hartmann von Aue to an English speaking audience of non-specialists as well as anyone seeking to casually familiarize themselves with the work of one of the greatest and most influential poets of the High Middle Ages -- and we would benefit greatly for a continuation of this series with the inclusion of other authors prominent in the MHG canon.