Authors: Hartmann von Aue

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

German poet

Author Works


Die Klage, c. 1180 (The Lament, 2001)

Erek, c. 1190 (Erec, 1982)

Iwein, c. 1190-1205 (Iwein: The Knight with the Lion, 1979)

Gregorius, c. 1190-1197 (English translation, 1955, 1966)

Der arme Heinrich, c. 1195 (English translation, 1931)

Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry: The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue, 2001


Hartmann von Aue (HAHRT-mahn fawn OW-uh), or Ouwe, belongs, with Gottfried von Strassburg and Wolfram von Eschenbach, among the foremost writers of the Middle High German court epic, and he has been widely praised for his crystalline style. Little is known of his life, but it is believed that he spent his youth in a monastery and later served a noble at Aue, somewhere in Swabia. He became a knight and at some time during the last two decades of the twelfth century went with a band of crusaders to Palestine.{$I[AN]9810000685}{$I[A]Hartmann von Aue}{$S[A]Von Aue, Hartmann[VonAue, Hartmann];Hartmann von Aue}{$S[A]Aue, Hartmann von;Hartmann von Aue}{$I[geo]GERMANY;Hartmann von Aue}{$I[tim]1160;Hartmann von Aue}

His Erec is one of the earliest known poems in German on the Arthurian cycle, the tale of an uxorious knight who neglects his chivalric duties. Iwein: The Knight with the Lion tells of a knight who, mindful of Erec’s example, errs at the other extreme and overstays his time at King Arthur’s court, although he had promised his wife to return in a year. Both of these somewhat didactic tales, which were patterned after those of Chrétien de Troyes, describe knights whose sin is superbia and who learn through their suffering the wisdom of moderation, or mâze, a key virtue in the medieval system of thought.

Der arme Heinrich is Hartmann’s most famous narrative poem, and in it he brings German to an early point of full literary expression. It was later retold by Henry Wadsworth, Longfellow, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It tells of a knight who, stricken with leprosy, is miraculously cured by the faith of a poor virgin who is willing to sacrifice herself for him. Hartmann is also recognized for shorter lyrics, poems of the crusades, and Gregorius, a medieval version of the Oedipus myth, about a militant knight who, after unknowingly committing incest with his mother, returns sanctified from a long period of penance and becomes pope. This legendary tale provided the plot of Thomas Mann’s novel The Holy Sinner (1951).

BibliographyBell, Clair Hayden. Peasant Life in Old German Epics: Meier Helmbrecht and “Der arme Heinrich.” New York: Columbia University Press, 1931. Contains an English translation of Der arme Heinrich, with explanatory endnotes as well as a bibliography. The introduction discusses points of comparison between Gregorius and an epic poem by Wernher der Gärtner, Meier Helmbrecht (c. 1250; partially translated as Meier Helmbrecht, a German Farmer of the Thirteenth Century, 1894). Includes general information about Hartmann and his work and discussion of the role of the peasant in medieval times.Gentry, Francis G., ed. A Companion to the Works of Hartmann von Aue. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2005. A scholarly collection of essays covering a wide range of topics on Hartmann von Aue’s works. Includes bibliography and index.Hartmann von Aue. Hartmann von Aue: “Gregorius, the Good Sinner.” Translated by Sheema Zeben Buehne. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1966. This volume includes short introductory remarks about the work and the translation but is most valuable for the complete text of Gregorius, with original language on one side and English translation on the other, and helpful explanatory notes.Hasty, Will. Adventures in Interpretation: The Works of Hartmann von Aue and Their Critical Reception. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1996. A survey of criticism of Hartmann von Aue’ work from the Enlightenment to postmodernism, which concludes that the interpretations by modern readers have been shaped mainly by critical trends.Jackson, W. H. Chivalry in Twelfth-Century Germany: The Works of Hartmann von Aue. Rochester, N.Y.: D. S. Brewer, 1994. A study of Hartmann von Aue’ poetic representation of knighthood and chivalric values with consideration of historical, literary, and linguistic influences.Jackson, W. H., and S. A. Ranawake, eds. The Arthur of the Germans: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval German and Dutch Literature. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000. A group of essays includes chapters on the emergence of the German Arthurian romance.Jackson, W. T. H. The Literature of the Middle Ages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960. A major study of the literature of the Middle Ages, including information on the development of the literature and its various forms. In the discussion of the romance, Hartmann is considered in the context of his times. He is compared with his contemporaries, and Erec and Iwein are analyzed specifically. Includes a chronology of the important works of the period and an extensive bibliography arranged by topic.Loomis, Roger Shermann. Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages: A Collaborative History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. An important survey of literature dealing with the Arthurian legend, with articles by specialists in each field. An individual chapter, “Hartmann von Aue and His Successors,” focuses on the development of the German Arthurian romance. Related chapters discuss Chrétien de Troyes, the source for Hartmann’ romances, and Hartmann’ contemporaries Wolfram von Eschenbach and Gottfried von Strassburg. Footnotes supply bibliographical information for each topic.Resler, Michael. Introduction to Hartmann von Aue: “Erec.” Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987. An extensive introduction including general historical and cultural background, specific information on the life of Hartmann, a discussion of Arthurian romance, and a full consideration of the sources, structure, and thematic issues of this work. This volume also contains a translation of Erec plus explanatory endnotes. Includes helpful selected bibliography, although the majority of the references are to sources in German.Richey, M. F. Essays on Mediaeval German Poetry. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1969. With an explanation of Minne, individual chapters on various medieval German poets (including the study of a poem by Hartmann), and a short selection of German sources, this volume provides a good orientation to the literary form but no extensive information on Hartmann. The article by Leslie Seiffert is especially helpful.Robertson, John George. “Hartmann von Aue.” In A History of German Literature, by Dorothy Reich. 6th ed. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1970. A brief analysis of Hartmann von Aue’s work.Sayce, Olive. The Poets of the Minnesang. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. A representative survey of lyric poetry written in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from 1150 to 1400. Good material on the origins and conventions of the Minne. With specific reference to Hartmann, including a representative sample of his poems in their original form without English translation.Seiffert, Leslie. “Hartmann von Aue and His Lyric Poetry.” Oxford German Studies 3 (1968): 1-29. Very informative article supplementing the more general references by Richey and Sayce. Considers the place of Hartmann in medieval lyric poetry and shows the role such poetry played in his life and literary production. Discusses briefly the research and current opinion on his lyric poetry and examines themes, motifs, and a pattern of moods within the work. Detailed interpretations of poems are included.Sullivan, Robert G. Justice and the Social Context of Early Middle High German Literature. New York: Routledge, 2001. A history of the Holy Roman Empire hinging on an examination of High German literature and its authors’ focus on social, political, and spiritual issues during a time of transformation. Bibliographical references, index.Thomas, J. W. Introduction to Hartmann von Aue: “Erec.” Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982. Includes information on Hartmann’ life and works, as well as the theme, plot structure, motifs, and style of the translated work. Explanatory notes at the end provide bibliographical information on each of these topics. A readable translation of the text follows.Thomas, J. W. Introduction to Hartmann von Aue: “Iwein.” Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. An informative introduction with an overview of Hartmann’ works and discussions of the theme of Iwein, structure and motifs, and the narrative style. Notes include important bibliographical references as well as helpful information. The translation included in this volume is very readable.Tobin, Frank J. “Gregorius” and “Der arme Heinrich”: Hartmann’ Dualistic and Gradualistic Views of Reality. Bern, Switzerland: Verlag Herbert Lang, 1973. A scholarly treatment of the two works, with important insights into the view of the world implicit in these texts. Includes extensive discussion of the content and themes of the two works, as well as an orientation to the terms “dualism” and “gradualism” as applied to the analysis. The bibliography includes both German and English references.Wapnewski, Peter. Hartmann von Aue. Stuttgart, Germany: Metzler, 1979. Critical analysis of Hartmann von Aue’ work, with bibliographic references. Published in German.Zeydel, Edwin H., and B. Q. Morgan, eds. “Gregorius”: A Medieval Oedipus Legend by Hartmann von Aue. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1955. Introduction and explanatory endnotes accompany this translation of Gregorius into rhyming couplets. Contains commentary on the verse form and the Gregorius legend, along with related legends in literature, particularly the Oedipus legend. Also includes information about the life of Hartmann and the surviving manuscripts of this work.
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