Das Nibelungenlied

Nibelungenlied, Das

 

a masterpiece of the German heroic epos named after the Nibelungs, a mythical race of dwarfs who owned and guarded a treasure. The poem was written down around 1200 and was first published in 1757 by J. J. Bodmer.

The sources of the Nibelungenlied lie in folklore, but the poem was considerably influenced by later feudal and courtly ideology and culture. The first part tells of the feats and death of the knight Siegfried; the second part relates the revenge of his wife Kriemhild and the tragic conclusion of bloody strife that reflects historical legends about the destruction of the Burgundian state by the Huns. The magic motifs associated with the figure of Siegfried are especially pronounced in Scandinavian versions of the story and in the German saga Der hörnen Sewfriedt (1557).

On the question of the origin of the Nibelungenlied, modern scholarship supports the views of A. Heusler, who determined the principles governing the development of short epic songs into long epics. Many authors, among them F. La Motte-Fouqué, C. Hebbel, R. Wagner, and H. Ibsen, have made use of the Nibelungenlied. The fascist literary scholars who attempted to depict the epic’s heroes as spokesmen of a distinctive “Nordic spirit” ignored the similarities between the Nibelungenlied and the epics of other nations.

PUBLICATIONS

Das Nibelungenlied. Leipzig, 1964. In Russian translation: Pesn’ o Nibelungakh. Leningrad, 1972.

REFERENCES

Heusler, A. Germanskii geroicheskii epos i skazanie o Nibelungakh. [Translation from German; introductory article and notes by V. M. Zhirmunskii.] Moscow, 1960.
Panzer, F. Das Nibelungenlied: Entstehung und Gestalt. Stuttgart and Cologne, 1955.
Bekker, H. The Nibelungenlied. Toronto [1971].
Abeling, T. Das Nibelungenlied und seine Literatur: Eine Bibliographie und vier Abhandlungen. New York [1970].

L. E. GENIN

References in periodicals archive ?
Anonymous Das Nibelungenlied, translated by Burton Raffel.
Yet Das Nibelungenlied is a remarkable work of art in its own right.
Like the Iliad and Odyssey, Das Nibelungenlied had a long and obscure prehistory, which is well summarized by Edward R.
Das Nibelungenlied had already survived in oral tradition for six or seven centuries before it was reworked into our Middle High German epic for performance at a south German or Austrian court around the year 1200.
Raffel's translation of Das Nibelungenlied is fluent and accurate.