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4 - Commentary and narrative

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Mark Chinca
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

In the Arthurian romances of Chrétien, Hartmann and Wolfram the meaning of the story is bound up with its structure. The narrative is a carefully worked-out total design, and the reader who has appreciated the pattern in the plot has the key to its meaning. In the contemporary Tristan romances, including Gottfried's, the plot is comparatively unstructured. It probably grew out of the agglomeration of various story-types of Celtic tradition; the resulting whole is a linear progression of more or less loosely connected episodes, beginning with the hero's parents and ending with the lovers' death. Moving a scene from its proper place in a plot of Chrétien's devising would spoil the structure and obscure the story's meaning. The component elements of Tristan romances, by contrast, are sometimes susceptible of reshuffling without detriment to either structure or meaning. For instance, in the versions of Thomas and Gottfried, Isolde's ordeal precedes the lovers' withdrawal to the cave, whereas Beroul places it after the equivalent episode of the forest and Eilhart replaces it by a different incident altogether, the wolf-trap set by Mark to catch Tristrant. These variations in the order and the components of the narrative are accompanied by different emphases (Beroul concentrates on the public and political implications of adultery, Eilhart on private feelings of enmity and friendship, Gottfried on the psychology of doubt); the variety of perspectives has more to do, however, with narrative mode than narrative structure.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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  • Commentary and narrative
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.006
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  • Commentary and narrative
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.006
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Commentary and narrative
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.006
Available formats
×