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3 - The poet and his fiction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Mark Chinca
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

The court, says Hartmann von Aue in the prologue to his Arthurian romance Iwein (c. 1190/1200), is not what it was in Arthur's time. Yet, he adds, ‘I should not want to have lived then, and not be alive now, when their story must still delight us; then they had pleasure by performing the deeds’ (ed. G. F. Benecke and K. Lachmann, rev. L. Wolff, Berlin, 1968, 54–8). In refusing to swap a world with fine stories but no fine deeds for one that has the deeds but not the stories, Hartmann expresses his preference for living in the present, when there are two distinct orders of reality: one factual and deficient, the other literary and perfect. The rise of romance in the twelfth century fostered the awareness that literature can make and give access to a reality all of its own; the modern term for this kind of writing, for which the authors of medieval romances had no name, is ‘fiction’.

The absence of the word does not mean that the concept did not exist; statements like Hartmann's show that medieval authors did conceive of a specifically literary order of reality. Critical debates have therefore been more concerned with two other questions: how far romance fiction was influenced by Latin rhetoric and poetics, and how different it is from modern literary fiction.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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  • The poet and his fiction
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.005
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  • The poet and his fiction
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.005
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.

  • The poet and his fiction
  • Mark Chinca, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Gottfried von Strassburg: Tristan
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139166447.005
Available formats
×