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Middle High German, German Fairy Tales and Heinrich von Kleist - Essay Example

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Middle High German, German Fairy Tales and Heinrich von Kleist

Repetition, often in well- structured stanza form, underlines the poet’s unswerving devotion. 1b The Minnelied is based on a poet/knight figure who reveres a high born lady from afar. There is usually very little exact definition of the social status and real life relationship between the two, because the Minnelied intended to depict love in an idealized fashion. The poet addresses the lady with an almost religious level of adoration, and he emphasizes her serene beauty and his abject devotion. This love is a hopeless kind of love, because there is always a reason why the poet cannot turn his words into reality. Usually the reason is that she is married, and so this means that secrecy is an essential theme. There is a lot of discussion of matters which are visual and tangible, although it is all presented in a stylized way. Although the poet is resigned to his fate, he is also persistent and faithful, never giving up on his hopeless love. This is a given, despite the indifference and even coldness of the lady in question. She cannot show any signs of giving in to the poet’s flattery and entreaties because this would be adultery and would result in her losing the status of a noble and admirable woman. Paradoxically, it is her unavailability that the poet treasures so much. 1c In Middle High German Classicism there are also longer narrative works, which are usually given the label of “courtly romance.” There are some echoes of Minnesang in this genre, since knights and fair ladies occur regularly in them, but the focus here is much more on the brave exploits of the knights and the concept of chivalry. Besides these there are also heroic epics, which deal with historical subjects over a long period of time. These deal with dynasties and wars, illustrating how power is passed down the generations, and how famous warriors step up to the mark when acts of bravery are required. There are also political set pieces, often in praise of some king or other leader, and many different types of religious writing from songs and prayers, to commentaries, letters and treatises on religious themes, or topics relevant to monks and nuns, such as herbal medicine, miracles and the lives of saints. Historical works like chronicles are also common in this period and they recount religious as well as political events. 1d The period before Middle High German Classicism is known by different terms, depending on whether one is looking at it linguistically or in terms of literary production. From about 700 until about 1100 people spoke what we call “Old High German” – a collection of dialects which were mostly spoken. The language of literary composition was usually Latin, due to the influence of Christianity, and most people were illiterate. Early Middle High German is therefore more closely aligned with religious themes. Towards the end of the Middle High German Classical epoch, society was changing fast, with greater levels of literacy, and more people living in towns and cities. This created a new bourgeois class which developed its own taste in literature, much of which was factual (Sachliteratur) and dealt with subjects like commerce and legal issues, or recording of property deals and the like or specialized (Fachliteratur), dealing with practical subjects like farming, alchemy, different trades and the beginnings of scientific explanations for things. ...Show more
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Summary

World Literature. Middle High German, German Fairy Tales and Heinrich von Kleist. Section 1. Epoch: The Middle High German Classicism. 1a The Minnelied belongs to the genre of Minnesang or love poetry and as the labels suggest, it revolves around the subject of love, and it was intended to be sung…
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