Hartmann von Aue Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Although all extant works by Hartmann von Aue are in verse form, scholars have been tempted to consider the courtly epics Erec, Iwein, Gregorius, and Der arme Heinrich as prototypes of modern prose forms such as the novella and the novel. Nevertheless, Hartmann is first and foremost an epic poet. Because he and his contemporaries drew no such generic distinctions, neither shall this survey.


(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

In The Emergence of German as a Literary Language, Eric Blackall describes the development of “an uncouth language into one of the most subtle literary media of modern Europe,” attaining respectability, however, only after 1700. Blackall implies here that until the eighteenth century, German literature was essentially derivative struggling to define itself in the presence of other, highly developed European languages and literatures. Seen in this light, the modest oeuvre of Hartmann von Aue—often topically repetitive and linguistically naïve by modern standards—can be appreciated for its true worth: as a giant stride toward vernacular poetry of the highest stature.

Hartmann’s language is a model of consistency and moderation. His sentences are clearly constructed, his rhymes are natural and unaffected, and his mastery of various verse forms is assured. His was a poetry of reflection and reason, and he frequently employed devices which clarified the theme for his audience, particularly parallelism and contrasting imagery. In his verse, he presented problematic situations that would be of interest and application to a broad audience, avoiding bizarre plots that would defeat his didactic purposes. The same concerns are reflected in his language: Hartmann pruned outdated expressions, dialect words, and foreign phrases in favor of a language accessible to a broader geographical audience. In this respect, Hartmann anticipated Martin...

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(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Gentry, Francis G., ed. A Companion to the Works of Hartmann von Aue. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2005. A scholarly collection of essays covering a wide range of topics on Hartmann von Aue’s works. Includes bibliography and index.

Hasty, Will. Adventures in Interpretation: The Works of Hartmann von Aue and Their Critical Reception. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1996. A survey of criticism of Hartmann von Aue’s work from the Enlightenment to postmodernism which concludes that the interpretations by modern readers have been shaped mainly by critical trends.

Jackson, W. H. Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Germany: The Works of Hartmann von Aue. Rochester, N.Y.: D. S. Brewer, 1994. A study of Hartmann von Aue’s poetic representation of knighthood and chivalric values with consideration of historical, literary, and linguistic influences.

Robertson, John George. “Hartmann von Aue.” In A History of German Literature, by Dorothy Reich. 6th ed. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1970. A brief analysis of Hartmann von Aue’s work.

Wapnewski, Peter. Hartmann von Aue. Stuttgart, Germany: Metzler, 1979. Critical analysis of Hartmann von Aue’s work, with bibliographic references. Published in German.