Skip to main content Wolfram Von Eschenbach Parsifal. Inkspell Inkheart Trilogy. In Stock. Inkspell is the second book in the Inkheart trilogy. Although some scenes in the book are predictable the overall story is great.
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The lapse of nearly seven hundred years, and the changes which the centuries have worked, alike in language and in thought, would have naturally operated to render any work unfamiliar, still more so when that work was composed in a foreign tongue; but, indeed, it is only within the present century that the original text of the Parzival has been collated from the MSS.
But the interest which is now felt by many in the Arthurian romances, quickened into life doubtless by the genius of the late Poet Laureate, and the fact that the greatest composer of our time, Richard Wagner, has selected this poem as the groundwork of that wonderful drama, which a growing consensus of opinion has hailed as the grandest artistic achievement of this century, seem to indicate that the time has come when the work of Wolfram von Eschenbach may hope to receive, from a wider public than that of his own day, the recognition which it so well deserves.
Of the poet himself we know but little, save from the personal allusions scattered throughout his works; the dates of his birth and death are alike unrecorded, but the frequent notices of contemporary events to be found in his poems enable us to fix with tolerable certainty the period of his literary activity, and to judge approximately the outline of his life.
Wolfram's greatest work, the Parzival , was apparently written within the early years of the thirteenth century; he [Pg x] makes constant allusions to events happening, and to works produced, within the first decade of that period; and as his latest work, the Willehalm , left unfinished, mentions as recent the death of the Landgrave Herman of Thuringia, which occurred in , the probability seems to be that the Parzival was written within the first fifteen years of the thirteenth century.
Inasmuch, too, as this work bears no traces of immaturity in thought or style, it is probable that the date of the poet's birth cannot be placed much later than The name, Wolfram von Eschenbach, points to Eschenbach in Bavaria as in all probability the place of his birth, as it certainly was of his burial.
By birth, as Wolfram himself tells us, he belonged to the knightly order Zum Schildesamt bin Ich geboren , though whether his family was noble or not is a disputed point, in any case Wolfram was a poor man, as the humorous allusions which he makes to his poverty abundantly testify. Yet he does not seem to have led the life of a wandering singer, as did his famous contemporary, Walther von der Vogelweide; if Wolfram journeyed, as he probably did, it was rather in search of knightly adventures, he tells us: 'Durchstreifen muss Der Lande viel, Wer Schildesamt verwalten will,' and though fully conscious of his gift of song, yet he systematically exalts his office of knight above that of poet.
The period when Wolfram lived and sang, we cannot say wrote , for by his own confession he could neither read nor write 'I'ne kan decheinen buochstap,' he says in Parzival ; and in Willehalm , 'Waz an den buochen steht geschrieben, Des bin Ich kunstelos geblieben' , and his poems must, therefore, have been orally dictated, was one peculiarly fitted to develop his special genius.
Under the rule of the Hohenstaufen the institution of knighthood had reached its highest point of glory, and had not yet lapsed into the extravagant [Pg xi] absurdities and unrealities which characterised its period of decadence; and the Arthurian romances which first found shape in Northern France had just passed into Germany, there to be gladly welcomed, and to receive at the hands of German poets the impress of an ethical and philosophical interpretation foreign to their original form.
The whole poem is instinct with the true knightly spirit; it has been well called Das Hohelied von Rittertum , the knightly song of songs, for Wolfram has seized not merely the external but the very soul of knighthood, even as described in our own day by another German poet; Wolfram's ideal knight, in his fidelity to his plighted word, his noble charity towards his fellow-man, lord of the Grail, with Its civilising, humanising influence, is a veritable 'true knight of the Holy Ghost.
These may be briefly said to be chiefly connected with the source from which Wolfram derived his poem, and with the interpretation of its ethical meaning. Books III. Is 'Kiot' a real, or a feigned, source?
Others have maintained that whether 'Kiot' be the name of the writer or not, Wolfram certainly had before him a French poem other than Li Conte del Graal. But whence Wolfram derived his idea of the Grail is a problem which it is to be feared will never now be completely solved.
The discussion as to the ethical meaning Wolfram attached to the story seems more hopeful of results, as here we do possess the requisite data, and can study the poem for ourselves. The question between [Pg xiii] critics is whether Wolfram intended to teach a purely religious lesson or not; whether the poem is an allegory of life, and Parzival a symbol of the Soul of man, hovering between Faith and Doubt, perplexed by the apparent injustice of God's dealings with men, and finally fighting its way through the darkness of despair to the clear light of renewed faith in God; or have we here a glorification of the knightly ideal?
Can the true knight, even though he lack faith in God, yet by keeping intact his faith with man, by very loyalty and steadfastness of purpose, win back the spiritual blessing forfeited by his youthful folly?
Is Parzival one of those at whose hands 'the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence'? It may well be that both these interpretations are, in a measure, true, that Wolfram found the germ of the religious idea already existing in his French source, but that to the genius of the German poet we owe that humanising of the ideal which has brought the Parzival into harmony with the best aspirations of men in all ages.
This, at least, may be said with truth, that of all the romances of the Grail cycle, there is but one which can be presented, in its entirety, to the world of to-day with the conviction that its morality is as true, its human interest as real, its lesson as much needed now as it was seven hundred years ago, and that romance is the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach. Some words as to the form of the original poem, and the method followed in translation, may be of interest to the reader.
The original Parzival is a poem of some 25, lines, written in an irregular metre, every two lines rhyming, reim-paar. Among modern German translators considerable difference of opinion as to the best method of rendering the original appears to exist. Simrock has retained the original form, and adheres very closely to the text; his version certainly gives the most accurate idea of Wolfram's style; San Marte has allowed himself considerable freedom in versification, and, unfortunately, also in translation; in fact, he too often gives a paraphrase rather than a reproduction of the text.
It must be admitted that Wolfram is by no means easy to translate, his style is obscure and crabbed, and it is often difficult to interpret his meanings with any certainty. The translator felt that the two points chiefly to be aimed at in an English version were, that it should be faithful to the original text, and easy to read.
The metre selected was chosen for several reasons, principally on account of the length of the poem, which seemed to render desirable a more flowing measure than the short lines of the original; and because by selecting this metre it was possible to retain the original form of reim-paar.
As a general rule one line of the English version represents two of the German poem, but the difference of language has occasionally demanded expansion in order to do full justice to the poet's meaning. Throughout, the translator's aim has been to be as literal as possible, and where the differing conventionalities of the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries have made a change in the form of expression necessary, the meaning of the poet has been reproduced, and in no instance has a different idea been consciously suggested.
That there must of necessity be many faults and defects in the work the writer is fully conscious, but in the absence of any previous English translation she can only hope that the present may be accepted as a not altogether inadequate rendering of a great original; if it should encourage others to study that original for themselves, and learn to know Wolfram von Eschenbach, while at the same time they learn better to understand Richard Wagner, she will feel herself fully repaid.
The translator feels that it may be well to mention here the works which have been principally relied on in preparing the English translation and the writers to whom she is mostly indebted. For the Text Bartsch's edition of the original Parzival , published in Deutsche Classiker des Mittelalters , has been used throughout, in connection with the modern German translation by Simrock.
In preparing the Notes use has been made of Dr. The Appendix on proper names has been mainly drawn up from Bartsch's article on the subject in Germanistische Studien ; and that on the Angevin allusions from Miss Norgate's England under the Angevin Kings , though the statements have been verified by reference to the original chronicles.
For all questions connected with the Perceval legend in its varying forms the authority consulted has been Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail , by Mr.
Alfred Nutt, to whom, personally, the translator is indebted for much valuable advice and assistance in preparing this book for publication. In the Introduction the poet tells of the evil of doubt and unsteadfastness—against which he would warn both men and women; he will tell them a tale which shall speak of truth and steadfastness, and in which many strange marvels shall befall. Book I. How he fought under the Baruch before Alexandria, and came to Patelamunt.
How Feirifis was born, and how Gamuret came to Seville. How the Queen of the Waleis ordered a Tourney to be holden, and of the heroes there assembled. How Gamuret did valiant deeds, and was adjudged the victor; and how two queens laid claim to his love. Of the wedding of Gamuret and Queen Herzeleide and their love to each other.
How Gamuret went to the aid of the Baruch, and was treacherously slain before Alexandria. How the news was brought to the land of the Waleis; of the sorrow of Herzeleide; and of the birth of Parzival. In the Introduction the poet speaks of the honour in which he holds all true women, though he be wroth with one who has wronged him. Yet, though women shall count him their friend, he would fain that they should honour him for his knightly deeds, rather than for this his song.
In Book III. How Parzival met with the Red Knight and bare his challenge to the court of King Arthur, and how he craved a boon of the king. How Parzival came to Gurnemanz of Graharz and was cured by him of his folly and taught all knightly wisdom, and how he rode forth from the land of Graharz. Book IV. How Queen Kondwiramur besought his aid; how he overthrew Kingron, and sent him to the court of King Arthur.
Of the love of Parzival and Kondwiramur; and how the hero parted from his wife, and went in search of knightly venture. Book V. How Parzival saw the bleeding spear, and all the marvels of the Grail, and how be asked no question. How he in the morning found the palace deserted, and was mocked by the squire as he rode away. How Orilus and his wife were made friends again, and of their welcome at the court of King Arthur.
Book VI. Of the blood-stained snow, and the love-trance of Parzival; and how, unknowing, he overthrew Segramor, and took vengeance on Kay. Of the coming of Kondrie, and Kingrimursel, and the shaming of Parzival and Gawain. Of Parzival's wrath and despair, and how he rode forth to seek the Grail.
The poet will now for a while recount the adventures of Gawain; whom many have held to be as valiant a knight as Parzival. Book VII. How Gawain came to the beleaguered city of Beaurosch; how Obie scorned him; and how Obilot besought him to be her knight. How the heroes fought before the walls of Beaurosch, and of the valiant deeds of Gawain and the Red Knight. Book VIII. How Gawain wooed the maiden, and of the wrath of her people.
Of the adventure of the chess-board, and how Kingrimursel came to the help of Gawain. How Antikonie reproached King Vergulacht, and how the nobles counselled their monarch.
Of the oath Gawain sware to the King, and how he rode forth to seek the Grail. Book IX. In the opening the spirit of adventure craves admission to the heart of the poet, who would fain learn from her tidings of Parzival. The venture telleth how the hero had ridden long in doubt and despair, and knew not the days of his wanderings. How, on Good Friday, Parzival met with a pilgrim knight who reproached him for bearing arms at that Holy Tide, and bade him seek the hermit Trevrezent.
How Parzival came to the hermit's cell, and spake of his wrath against God, of his sorrow for his wife, and of his search for the Grail. How Trevrezent told him wherein he had sinned, and showed him the way of salvation. How the hermit farther revealed to him the mysteries of the Grail, of the Bleeding Lance, and the knives of silver; how he told him of the wound of Anfortas, of the race of the Grail Kings, and how Parzival himself was nephew to Anfortas and Trevrezent.
How Parzival confessed that it was he who came to the Grail Castle and failed to ask the question; how Trevrezent spake to him words of comfort and counsel, and absolved him from his sin; and how the two parted in sorrow. One of the most striking peculiarities of this version of the Perceval legend consists in the fact that the writer closely connects his hero with a contemporary princely house, and exercises considerable ingenuity in constructing a genealogy which shall establish a relationship alike with the legendary British race of Pendragon, and with the hereditary House of Anjou.
Now, that Parzival should be represented as connected with Arthur is not surprising, taking into consideration the great popularity of the Arthurian legends; the English 'Sir Percyvelle' makes the relationship even closer; there, Percyvelle is Arthur's nephew, his sister's son; but it is far more difficult to account for the Angevin connection.
It has been suggested that the writer of Wolfram's French source was Walter Mapes, to whom another of the Grail romances the Queste is generally ascribed; and who, as is well known, was closely attached to the Court of Henry Fitz-Empress, Count of Anjou, and King of England.
Setting on one side the great difference, in style and treatment, between the Parzival and the Queste , which render it impossible to believe that the same man could have treated the same legend from two such practically opposite points of view, a close examination of the Angevin allusions found in the Parzival reveals a correspondence between the characters and incidents of the poem, and the facts, real and traditional, of Angevin history, which seems to point to a familiarity with the subject scarcely likely to be possessed by a foreigner.
The following parallels will show that this Angevin element, though strongest in the first two books those peculiar to Wolfram's version , is to be clearly traced even in the presentment of what we know to be traditional features of the story.
The peculiar presentment of the Knights of the Grail as Templars Templeisen , having their residence in a castle surrounded by a forest, recalls the fact that a close connection between the Order of Templars and the House of Anjou had existed for some time previous to the date of this poem, a tax for the benefit of the Order having been imposed on all his dominions by Fulk V.
A community of Knights Templars was founded by Henry Fitz-Empress fifty years later at Vaubourg, in the forest of Roumare which became very famous. In the other versions of the Perceval legend this is not the case, consequently there are a vast number of names occurring in the Parzival to which no parallel can be found elsewhere, and which are no unimportant factor in determining the problem of the source from which Wolfram drew his poem.
It would be impossible in a short Appendix to discuss the question in all its bearings, but the following classification, based on Herr Bartsch's article on Die Eigen-namen in Wolfram's Parzival , will give some idea of the wide ground they cover:—. Names belonging to the original legend, and met with, with but little variation, in all versions. Whence Wolfram took this name is unknown. He also refers to other romances which have not come down to us, such are the [Pg ] allusions to adventures connected with Gawain in Book VI.
The names derived from these romances are all noted, and their source given as they occur in the text. These were, of course, introduced by Wolfram, and could not have existed in his French source.
Oriental names. In Book IV. Names of cities such as Alexandria, Bagdad, Askalon. This latter is of course equivalent to Escavalon in the French versions, and the real name is doubtless Avalon, but it is by no means improbable that the change was made not by a misunderstanding, but by one who knew the Eastern city, and it falls in with the various other indications of crusading influence to be traced throughout the poem.
We may add to these the names of Oriental materials such as Pfellel and Sendal.
Wolfram von Eschenbach: Life and Work
Parzival is a medieval romance written by the knight-poet Wolfram von Eschenbach in Middle High German. The poem, commonly dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, centers on the Arthurian hero Parzival Percival in English and his long quest for the Holy Grail following his initial failure to achieve it. Parzival begins with the knightly adventures of Parzival's father, Gahmuret, his marriage to Herzeloyde Middle High German : herzeleide , "heart's sorrow" , and the birth of Parzival. The story continues as Parzival meets three elegant knights, decides to seek King Arthur , and continues a spiritual and physical search for the Grail. A long section is devoted to Parzival's friend Gawan and his adventures defending himself from a false murder charge and winning the hand of the maiden Orgeluse.
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Wolfram von Eschenbach , born c. An impoverished Bavarian knight , Wolfram apparently served a succession of Franconian lords: Abensberg, Wildenberg, and Wertheim are among the places he names in his work. He also knew the court of the landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia , where he met the great medieval lyric poet Walther von der Vogelweide. Though a self-styled illiterate, Wolfram showed an extensive acquaintance with French and German literature , and it is probable that he knew how to read, if not how to write.