contributor.author: Marc Pierce

title.none: Resler, ed. and trans., German Romance I (Marc Pierce)

identifier.other: baj9928.0508.026 05.08.26

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Marc Pierce, University of Michigan, mpierc@umich.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2005

identifier.citation: Resler, Michael, ed. and trans. German Romance I: Daniel von dem Bluhenden Tal. Series: Arthurian Archives, vol. 9. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2003. Pp. 435. $85.00 0-85991-793-2. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 05.08.26

Resler, Michael, ed. and trans. German Romance I: Daniel von dem Bluhenden Tal. Series: Arthurian Archives, vol. 9. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2003. Pp. 435. $85.00 0-85991-793-2. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Marc Pierce
University of Michigan
mpierc@umich.edu

The thirteenth-century German romance Daniel von dem Bluehenden Tal (Daniel of the Blooming Valley), by an author who called himself "Der Stricker" (which most probably means "weaver" or "knitter"), is of great importance to the history of German literature, as it is the first German Arthurian romance without a French source (despite Der Stricker's claims to the contrary in the preface). This book reprints the Middle High German original with a facing-page English prose translation. Since both the edition and translation have been published previously (the Middle High German edition originally appeared in the Max Niemeyer Altdeutsche Textbibliothek series in 1983 and in a second revised edition in the same series in 1995, while the English translation was originally published by Garland in 1990), one could question the decision to republish them here. As this decision has provided readers with more convenient access to both the text and the translation, and since the translation given here differs somewhat from the earlier one, this decision seems to have been for the best. (Changes to the translation reflect changes to the edition.)

The volume opens with a lengthy introduction, which tackles some of the major relevant issues, including the life of the poet, his sources and influences, and the status of Daniel as an artistic achievement. There is disappointingly little concrete biographical information about Der Stricker. For instance, while some have contended that he was a native of Austria (based largely on the purported dialect of the text and on certain hints Der Stricker gives in some of his other works), others have rejected this claim. Resler carefully considers the arguments both pro and con, and ultimately concludes that there is no completely solid evidence that Der Stricker was native to Austria, but that he certainly must have spent some time there. As to his sources and influences, as noted above, Der Stricker himself refers to a French source, but "modern scholars have been virtually unanimous in their rejection of this claim" (10), since no one has apparently been able to discover this source, and Der Stricker's own invocation of a French source is suspect for other reasons as well. As Resler points out, the "careful appeal to auctoritas, or established authority, is very much characteristic of medieval composition" (11), found in works like the Middle High German Nibelungenlied and the Old High German Hildebrandlied, among others, and this presumably played a role as well. Finally, while Daniel is generally not viewed as equal to the "three great German Arthurian romances" (17), namely Erec and Iwein by Hartmann von der Aue and Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, for a variety of different reasons, it is still both a magnificent achievement and a crucially important text. The introduction closes with an outline of the editorial principles Resler followed in preparing the edition and translation.

The edition is based on MS h, now located in Frankfurt, with some reference to one or the other of the surviving manuscripts, and the Middle High German text has been normalized. This second decision is admittedly controversial, but Resler defends it well, noting that the only really feasible alternative would be to offer a diplomatic edition, which would be a less desirable decision, given the roughly 250-year gap between the composition of the text and the earliest manuscripts that preserve it.

As to the translation, Resler opted for an "essentially conservative translation, though by no means a word-for-word rendering" (29). It is divided into fifteen chapters (a division not found in the original text), and accompanied with copious notes. The decision to prepare a prose, rather than a verse, translation, has resulted in the unavoidable elimination of "a major and significant feature of the original Middle High German text" (29), namely its original verse format. Since preparing a verse translation that successfully captures the features of the original is a virtually impossible task, Resler cannot be faulted for this decision. Moreover, he has attempted to atone for the loss of this feature by using a "richer and more variegated modern English vocabulary than is present--or even possible--in the Middle High German" (29). The result is a lucid, readable translation, although I admittedly might have chosen a different word here and there (for instance, Resler translates line 2839, "und sluoc im daz houbet abe," as "and cleaved off his head," where I would suggest "and cut off his head"). The notes offer useful clarifications on various words and references to where the 1990 translation has been modified, along with justifications for the changes. There is also an extensive bibliography of both primary and secondary sources. The volume itself is sturdily bound and cleanly edited (typographical errors are rare, but the printing is blurry in a few lines of the review copy).

In sum, this is a valuable edition and translation, well worth the time and energy necessary to read and digest it.