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German Literature History #1
by Thornchild/Angels/Occult

My dear readers, be heartily welcomed to one of my chapters, "The German Literature History". As I remarked at the end of my last article a dominant time phase of the clerical literature did occur. It further has to be mentioned that the lyrical style of the epic works still was popular in the literature.

The next work we have to put a closer look on is the text of the "Heliand". It was found by the literature scientist Franciscus Junius, who found it, meanwhile he searched for old handwritings, in the old text sample called "The Cottonianus". Further the British scientist George Hickes found a part of "The Heliand" text in a copy of a handwriting in Oxford. He mentioned the text in an essay written by him in 1689. A further publication of a part of "The Cottanianus" was realised by the German expert and scholar Klopstock, who had the noble wish to publish the whole text. He certainly was aware of the fact that he had to try to receive the rest of the text. So he did ask his friend king Christian VII. of Denmark. With his help Klopostock was able to get a copy of some of the other parts of the text into his hands. Because Klopostock went back to Germany, his plan stayed unrealised unfortunately. In 1720 the information about a handwriting of the text is given by Eccard. In his information text he deems that Badurad, the second bishop of the town of Paderborn, has written the work himself or did follow the friendly suggestion of Ludwig the Pious to let it write. It is, as Eccard tells furtherly, sure that a copy of the text was gifted to Wuerzburg as a proof of his gratitude for his education there.

1794 the lorrainian abbe Gerard Gley did discover the handwriting of Bamberg and recognized the parallels to "The Cottonianus". He wanted to publish the text but due to unpleasing circumstances again the full text couldn't be printed, only about 180 verses. After some other tries without success, the expert Sievers reached a satisfactory edition.

Due to the handwritings of the "Heliand" there also can be given some interesting informations. "The Monacensis" (M) was in fact held in the cathedral library of Bamberg, as it is said it came to Bamberg as a gift in 1011. Only 75 sheets still do exist. Schmeller and Sievers do think that the handwriting was done in the 9th century, they couldn't find out where the handwriting was written down. It is thought that it comes from the town of Muenster, but this isn't proved. "The Cottonianus" (C) is in the British museum in London, it isn't exactly known how it did find its way to this place. It is deemed as to be sure that C is a "younger" text than M, probably it can be dated to the end of the 10th or the beginning of the 11th century. It is obvious to the experts that an old pattern was used for it. The expert Heyne thinks that the text can be originated to the monastery of Werden at the river Ruhr.

Koegel and Bruckner think that this is right for they found peculiarities in the text that fix the text to this location.

The fragment of "Prague" (P) was found in 1881 in the library of Prague. Due to the language it is near to C. It is deemed that P is the oldest of all handwritings.

Last but not least there does exist a text called The Fragmentum Vaticanum (V) which can only be told of that it also contains a fragment of the 'Genesis'. The text gives a look into about 100 verses of the 'Heliand'.

Interesting aspects referring to this piece of art (and I'll prove that it is one later) are given now. As it can be surely said, the author of the 'Heliand' isn't known. As so many authors in those days the author just saw himself as a nameless mouth that just tells his epic text. It more or less would even be impossible to have any kind of idea due to the fine text if there wouldn't be a literal source called "Praefatio in librum Antiquum lingua Saxonica Conscriptum".

The publisher Matthias Flacius Illyricus did edit the text of the "Praefatio" in the second edition of a text anthology. Unfortunately, he didn't tell the interested scientists, where the text of the "Praefatio" can be originated.

The text of the "Praefatio" tells (in a quite broad and bombastic style) that Ludwig the Pious wanted to spread the Christian belief and the beauty and the wisdom of the Bible to the Germans. To realise this he gave an order to a Saxonian man to translate the whole Bible in verses. He did his work quite successfully. He wanted to avoid to loose the view, so he divided the work into special sections which are called "Fitten" in the German language. The expert Zarncke proved that a strange legend of a farmer who allegedly was given the ability to write verses of excellent beauty and quality in a dream was just told to build a bridge across to a text that also was edited by Illyricus, the so called "Versus de Poeta et Interprete Hujus Codicis".

The plot that was embedded into the "Versus" was probably a changed version of a legend in the church history of Beda. This, as Sievers states, was also found out as to be sure by Zarncke.

The author of the 'Heliand' is said to have been a literal artist who learned his work from masters of art. As it can be said the work is one of the best of all works that the early German literature ever had. Further it seems to be very sure that the man was not theologically trained, but the assistents of his client. They probably told him their knowledge and so he did write the text using his well trained memory.

The literal source of the author of the 'Heliand' was the gospel harmony of Tatian. Further was well informed about the popular comments referring to the Bible. This is proved by Windisch.

It seems more or less urgent to give you a text example of the 'Heliand' here, fortunately I am able to give you the possibility to be able to come to know a little bit of the craft this text has in it. Here is a little example, I honestly hope that the translation is good: "He also was with the guests, and reported to them, he had power from God, help from Heavens Father, holy spirit, the wisdom of the charging. The people was happy, merry the folks were together, cheerful friends. Servants went, gifted bowls, wore finest wine in jugs and pots. The doing of the fellows was joyous in the halls. And as now the heroes were in their best joy and bliss: there were no further drinks, no delicious wine could be found in the house..."

This short example is, as some of you in fact rightly think, the story of the wedding of Kana. As you may see the text is far more "coloured", for the author has transformed the Bible style into the typical epos style of his time for he has the task to impress the people of his time (he did write his work probably between 830 and 850), who were more interested in hearing epic works of this manner.

The plot of this work tells of the life and deeds of Jesus Christ. The author works in the old teutonic life principles that still were quite popular at those times for the process of the "transformation" from the teutonic tribes to a united German people lasted for some time. So Christ becomes a mighty teutonic like prince here, his apostles are a bit like knight-typed heros. Compared with Greek epos works, the late teutonic and early German works are far more strict, they mostly don't contain stylistic elements like metaphors.

Another important work of this kind is the epic work of the "Genesis". The text is deemed to be younger than the "Heliand" by some experts, meanwhile others say that the "Genesis" is older. Further it can't be said exactly if the author of the "Genesis" is also the author of the "Heliand". It is a true problem for the experts to find out the right answers to this problems. Koegel and Bruckner think that there are two different authors (the style of the "Genesis" is not so almost perfect as the style of the "Heliand") and that the "Genesis" was written after the other epos.

The handwritings of this epic text are the following ones. A part of the already mentioned V, which belonged to the town of Mainz since the 15th century. Also in Mainz three fragment parts of this text can be located. They were edited around 900. The author of these parts surely was no person from Saxonia, for many parts of the text are more or less Franconian. Please remark that some parts of the epos were also found in the handwritings of the "Heliand", so look at previous pages of this article.

Meanwhile the text of the "Heliand" was just a transferred description of the Bible report of Christ, the "Genesis" is more complex due to its contents. In the main aspects the text tells the story of the first couple of manhood (Adam & Eve) and their fates. But the important difference to the Bible text is that the author partially changed the plot of the epos for working out his personal ideological impressions.

Some short examples shall show you what I mean. As you may know from the first book of the Bible, the first book of Mose, God told Adam NOT to eat from the tree of cognition. In the epos he tells also to Eve. Later the tale of the revolt of the evil angel (Satan, as I probably rightly think) follows in which the author succeeds to give this character his total individuality, the reader (and hearer) comes to know his positive qualities and even begins to like him. This never (as I know) was described suchly in the Bible for in this text all is described far more strict so the epos is quite "coloured" in its words and also its style.

The text of the "Genesis" proceeds with the fall of Satan, bound in hell. He, in fact, wishes revenge and sends an assistent to Earth. This assistent comes to Adam in the shape of a serpent and tells him that he'd come from God and has now ordered to eat also from the tree of cognition. Adam stays loyal and sends him away. Eve acts against God's true order and eats from the forbidden tree, what lets Satan become very happy.

This certainly isn't the whole plot of this epic work but it shows the author's ambitions a bit. It can't be fully stated that the work of the "Heliand" is better than the "Genesis", for both are quite well in their high quality.

Coming back to the shorter literal works of those years, a very important literal person and his work have to be explained more closely here, I am talking about Otfried. As it is quite well and almost surely known Otfried was born in or near the town of Weissenburg, which is in the south of the Rhine Franconian area of Germany. His education maybe was gained by him in the famous Benedictine monastery of his home. For some years he left his home, some of his first verses reflect his homesickness. He went to the monastery school in Fulda, where he met one of the most well known scholars of the time, Hrabanus Maurus, who was also the abbot of the school. It is deemed that Otfried got some well guidance by the bishop of Konstanz, for Otfried sends him his work "In Suabo Richi" for the well social and scientific relation.

His stay in Fulda began between 830 and 838, as it is stated. Later Otfried became a priest in the Weissenburg monastery. A quite fixed proof of his life and work can be seen in 851 (Otfried is the author of a document). From this time on we can assume with a lot of certainty that he began his impressive work, the "Liber Evangeliorum Theotisce Conscriptus". Otfried needed a longer period of time to come to know the very new literal technique of the fourly-risen rhymed verses. The completed work came into the hands of Luitbert, for it had to be officially permitted by the arch-bishop to publish it. It can be furtherly stated that Otfried ended his work between 863 and 871. It isn't known which answer arch-bishop Luitbert of Mainz gave to Otfried, but it is relatively sure that it was accepted by him. Later, being asked for that by his monastery colleagues, he "composed" the text "Veneranda Matrona Nomine Judith", a work also in verses. As some parts of the handwritings show, Otfrid wished that his verses should be sung, for they contain music notes.

But now a closer look on his main work, the "Book of Gospels". He divided it into five parts he called books. He did so by thinking of the five human senses (e.g. hearing). In opposition to the author of the "Heliand", he had a copy of the "Vulgata". And he had a quite intensive regard on the liturgic orders of the time.

As it can be described here, Otfried was not only satisfied with the writing of plot parts. He also inserted more philosophic and theological views. So he gives the readers a quite interesting and deep sight into his abilities as an author (and an artful one!) and a very well scheduled expert in theological aspects for it is his honest wish and also aim to give his readers an intensive understanding of the gospels contents.

The literal sources of Otfried were indeed various. Certainly he used all four gospels. But he had a good help by the secondary literature, like Beda and Raban. Many of these sources (as you may have guessed) are in latin language.

Due to his style he possibly had an idol of the time, the author Prudentius, for he uses his literal style of the diptychon (a stanza of four verses). He also used burdens which are certainly of alienated origin. In fact it can be said that Otfried's work is at its best where it is mostly lyrical. The "Book of Gospels" was unrecognized for a very long time, for to see clearly his mastership isn't such easy.

The text uses alliteration. You can also find a lot of half verses in it and a quite big number of variations. So the author Otfried combines literal elements of a different age.

Due to the handwritings, it is indeed very well to know that they're in a good condition. They're four, three complete ones and a little fragment. The main text, the "Vindobonensis", was probably written by three persons, the third one of them was mainly active due to the correction of the edition. It is seen as a sure fact that the third person was Otfried himself. This handwriting is located in Vienna and contains a preface in Latin.

The other handwritings stand back behind the V issue. So the handwriting of Heidelberg is harshly garbled. One issue was "translated" into the Bavarian dialect. It seems that in the 9th and 10th century there did exist further handwritings, unfortunately they are lost.

Seen due to the time period of their creation, quite few works followed the masterpiece of Otfried. Most of them were deeply inspired by Otfried, and the clerical authors did write their works in latin.

And now I indeed reached the end of this article. I hope that you'll be with me in the next issue of this nice mag. Till then I say goodbye to you all and I wish you (as always!) a lot of fun with the rest of the mag.


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