Germany Literature – From the Origins to 1180 Part IV

But the renaissance of classical antiquity, which manifested itself under the Ottos, was short-lived and the taste for Latin writers quickly passed. Times are pressing: the great historical events of a profoundly eventful era, full of the tragic repercussions of the immense conflict between the Church and the Empire, the new and dazzling impressions of the Crusades, the rise, with the municipal system of new conditions of life for the various classes, they give towards the middle of the century. XI the ferments for the development of a new and rich literature, which accompanies the rise and the affirmation of a new literary language, the Middle-High-German.

According to youremailverifier, the beauties of the ancients in this period lose their charm, indeed the study of them, as opposed to the meditations of Christian truth, is considered as a fault and all profane literature is a cause of scandal. The clergyman of the type of the first Ekkehardo disappears: the national sagas are thrown into the domain of error, which can only yield the pains of hell. The ancient wandering poet, the venerable. Early Sänger who kept the memory of the memorable deeds of his ancestors, becomes the beggar wanderer, united with the mime and the fool. For all the time that goes from the middle of the century. XI to the middle of the XII, religious and ecclesiastical ideas entirely dominate the spirits. Clergy and laity find themselves under the empire of the ascetic direction emanating from the convent of Cluny: it is reflected in the art is the concern for one’s own salvation, the thought of the afterlife, the fear of eternal punishment; and the clergymen, as already in Charlemagne’s time, once again adopt poetry to vulgarize their doctrine and their conception of the world and of life. Thus a copious harvest of vulgar works flourishes, to which the ancient one seems to set the tone for a long time Memento mori Alemannic, who preaches the thought of death as the norm of life. The life of Christ, the most important events of the Old Testament, the Antichrist, the final judgment, the same Christian legend then in flourishing development, are the favorite themes of literature, whose only merit is to be sought in the way of elaboration. of a traditional subject and in the degree of religious fervor that animates it. L ‘ Ezzolied (Canto di Ezzo), in which the world drama from creation to redemption is sketched with pregnant conciseness; the so-called Genesis of Vienna, a naive and fresh reworking of the biblical Genesis ; the poems of Donna Ava (Frau Ava), the earliest known German-language poetess who expounds the main facts of the New Testament in a rather colorless style; the three Songs of the Holy Virgin by the priest Wernher, a minute narration of the events in the life of Mary, but somewhat free from its sources and already a little adorned with that agile elegance that will be typical of later courtly poetry; the Annolied, poem in praise of Archbishop Annone of Cologne, are the most notable productions of this address. But the ecclesiastics, with the intention of bringing the laity more and more into the orbit of the Christian spiritual conception, at the same time distracting them from the national heroic legends, less suitable and even in contrast with religious views and interests, did not take long to invade the domination of profane fables, introducing the French epic for the first in Germany, and with it the form of the broad story no longer intended for acting, but for reading, thus helping to pave the way for the entry of Romance poetry in German literature and to prepare the advent of the period of courtly poetry, which was then to deprive them forever of the privilege of letters. Thus arose, in the first half of the century. XII, the reworking in German verse of the French poem on the exploits of Alexander the Great by Alberic of Besançon, the Song of Orlando (Rolandslied) by Priest Conrad and the Chronicle of the Emperors (Kaiserchronik), a vast compilation of the history of the Roman kings and emperors from Romulus to Conrad of Swabia, composed around 1150 by an ecclesiastic from Regensburg. Also two profane fables without any religious tinge, of those that continued to live in the oral tradition of wandering poets and jesters, were reshaped into poems around the time when the Chronicle of the Emperors was written, namely King Rotari (König Rother) and Duke Ernesto (Herzog Ernst), two short-story-legendary compositions, of German origin, but transported into the fantastic picture of the East and into the world of the Crusades. Now even the national heroic legends, even though they have hitherto been entrusted to the goldsmith tradition, are close to being transcribed into poems intended for reading: the poem is about to be removed from the hands of the clergymen to enter feudal castles and palaces.

Germany Literature - From the Origins to 1180 4