Die anglonormannische und die englischen Fassungen des Hornstoffes: Ein historisch-genetischer Vergleichby Werner Arens

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    Die anglonormannische und die englischen Fassungen des Hornstoffes: Ein historisch-genetischer Vergleich by Werner ArensReview by: Robert W. AckermanSpeculum, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Jul., 1976), pp. 494-496Published by: Medieval Academy of AmericaStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2851710 .Accessed: 18/12/2014 19:20

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  • REVIEWS WERNER ARENS, Die anglonormannische und die englischen Fassungen des Horn-

    stoffes: Ein historisch-genetischer Vergleich. (Studien zur Anglistik, Studien- reihe Humanitas.) Frankfurt am Main: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, 1973. Paper. Pp. iii, 320.

    FEW works of medieval vernacular literature have attracted a greater volume of scholarly traffic over the past century than the several versions in Old French and Middle English of the Horn legend. In part, this sustained interest may be explained by the fact that one version, the Middle English King Horn, composed in about 1225, has long been esteemed as possibly the earliest of the extant English romances and also as a work of some literary merit.

    The main objectives of the new study are sufficiently traditional in nature: to note the differences marking the most important versions of the leg- end -Horn et Rimel (RH), King Horn (KH), Horn Childe & Maiden Rimnild (HC), Hind Horn (HH), and the prose Ponthus and Sidone (PS)- , to formu- late the concerns central in each form, and finally to advance suggestions about genre classification. But in method Arens departs from the chiefly historical and linguistic treatment of earlier critics, such as Dieter Mehl in his Middle English Romances of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries (1968). That is, he works out much of his comparison of the Horn-versions in what may be called structural terms. He first examines the geographical structure ("Raumstruktur" or "Ortsgeriist") of each form with primary attention to sequence of settings (Suddene, Bretaigne, Westir, etc.). The results of this comparison are schematically presented (see pp. 35, 42, 47, etc.), and the changes from the "romance geography" of RH and KH to the more realistic place descriptions in the later versions are summarized ifn a separate chapter.

    Next, Arens studies differences in the treatment of time, taking two investigations of "epic time" by G. Miiller (1948, 1954) as his point of departure. He observes at the outset that as in any narrative time measure- ment in the Horn legend is expressed by temporal conjunctions and other function words as well as by direct calendar references to feasts and seasons and to periods or duration of time, including days, weeks, years, and the like ("icel jour," "li3t of day," "seue 3er," etc.). The large segments of time tend naturally to be coterminous with the several settings in the plot although the calendar of events differs from one version to another. Also, no version is wholly consistent with respect to its timetable. Within the over-all time structure which, following Miller, is called "erzahlte Zeit," a more subjec- tively indicated aspect of time may be perceived, namely, "Erzahlzeit," or the amount of space which an author devotes to the development of the succes- sive events or episodes (see p. 98). The "Zeit- und Erzahlgeriist" drawn up in tabular form for each version except HH displays the contrasting treatment of time. Moreover, special heed is given the one-day phases prominent in certain versions (see pp. 117-29, and 133).


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  • Reviews 495

    The time structure and time expressions are considered to provide first of all a significant index to differing styles. In RH and KH time is normally indicated by romance cliches whereas in HC and PS it is more realistically signalled by seemingly original wording. Again, the one-day phases into which the story is broken down especially in KH and to some extent in HC convey a sense of "climactic action" as opposed to the more "epic" movement of RH and PS. Second, it is argued that the relationship of objective to subjective time makes known more exactly the central artistic concerns of the writer (see p. 113, etc.). In KH, for example, the "Zeitgeriist" reveals an extended treatment of love episodes as compared with the attention given the corresponding episodes in RH.

    Character portrayal is the third "narrative layer" discussed here. The dramatis personae of the earlier versions, RH and KH, are essentially stereo- types. Horn fulfills the expectations of the early romance hero in his physical prowess and his personal beauty. The other characters fall into more or less hierarchically ordered groups, a feature that becomes blurred in the later HC and PS. Another late tendency is the fading of the warrior ethos so marked in RH and KH and the introduction of courtly and Christian motifs, such as largesse. In PS the homiletic tone is strong enough to justify refer- ring to the hero asfidei defensor. RH and KH stand at the intersection of two traditions, that of the battle song or chanson de geste, and that of romantic love. In other words, in these poems the hero fights not only for the faith in combating Saracens, simultaneously avenging his father and recovering his heritage, he is likewise motivated by his love for Rymenhild. This dual motivation is most successfully integrated in KH. In HC and PS, the intru- sion of courtly and didactic elements weakens the characterization.

    The final chapter, "Stil- und Gattungsfragen," applies the results of the foregoing analysis to genre classification, making use also of a study of epic narrative by V. Schirmunski (1961). Whereas in RH the Horn story is mainly recounted or reported, both speech and description are used liberally in KH. On this basis, RH is called an early romance and KH a "balladic metrical romance" ("balladeske Versromanze"). Especially the amount of dialogue in KH suggests a closer relationship to the ballad HH than has generally been allowed. In HC, the earlier or "epic" style predominates, but in PS, which represents the latest development, we find much dialogue.

    In this study, Arens seeks to illustrate and justify his approach to medieval literature as he outlines it most explicitly in his Introduction. Strictly histori- cal criticism, he argues, is deeply compromised because little is known about medieval writers and still less about their audiences. Moreover, any evalua- tion of a work of that far-off period is likely to be influenced by the critic's modern presuppositions. A resolution of the difficulty, Arens believes, lies in the attempt to bring the two approaches together. A judgment based on historical knowledge about the "function" of a work in its own day must be tempered by an understanding of its content, structure, and unity ("Gehalt-Gestalt-Einheit"), factors which must themselves be placed in histor-

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  • 496 Reviews

    ical perspective. One illustrative value judgment is to the effect that KH is superior to RH as literature because the English hero is not merely the warrior who occasionally fights for love, as in RH. Rather, as suggested above, his motivation as a fighter is interwoven with the love plot ("Aben- teuer und Kampf im Interesse der Geliebten," p. 194), and he therefore acts as a strong, well-unified character. The structuring of the plot and the use made of the fishnet motif contribute to this effect in KH.

    Such broad conclusions as the above are in fair general agreement with earlier Horn scholarship although in other matters like genre classification several new insights emerge. The Arens study should perhaps be judged, then, not so much as a startling challenge to received views as an exem- plification of a little-tested and potentially useful critical approach. In this connection, the reader may respond skeptically, as does the present re- viewer, to certain claims made here. For example, it would seem that no more than the roughest approximation of a "writer's intention and the central point of his statement" (p. 113) could result from an analysis of the time structure of a work, and not many gestures are made here in the direction of showing how that approximation may be refined into a worth- while literary judgment. Even so, the study retains the virtue of supplying us with a closer and a far more systematic dissection of narrative strategy in medieval literature than has appeared heretofore.


    Walpole, New Hampshire

    ROBERT CHAZAN, Medieval Jewry in Northern France: A Political and Social History. (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, 91st series, 2.) Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins Uni- versity Press, 1973. Pp. xiv, 238. $12.50.

    IN the absence of any reasonably detailed, reliable, and comprehensive history of the Jews in medieval France, it has been necessary to piece a picture together from the two great histories of Jews in medieval Europe by Georg Caro and Salo Baron and the monographic literature.1 The great value of Medieval Jewry in Northern France is that it now provides an inte- grated, detailed description of a central segment of that history. Since it only deals with Jews in parts of northern France from the late tenth century to 1306 and omits the development of Jewish thought, it is not the needed total synthesis. Yet Professor Chazan's decision to limit his study to those regions

    1 There has been no major survey of an extended period of the history of Jews in France until the Histoire desJuifs en France, ed. Bernhard Blumenkranz (Toulouse, 1972), now supplemented by the Bibliographie des Juifs en France, ed. Blumenkranz (Toulouse, 1974). While the Bibliog- raphie is invaluable for the medieval period, the Histoire is mainly devoted to the modern period, for its editor, the most knowledgeable authority on Jews in medieval France, modestly restricted his coverage of the medieval period to sixty pages on all aspects of Jewish life.

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    Article Contentsp. 494p. 495p. 496

    Issue Table of ContentsSpeculum, Vol. 51, No. 3 (Jul., 1976), pp. 381-587Front MatterThe Dukes in the Regnum Francorum, A.D. 550-751 [pp. 381-410]The Biblical Glosses of Haimo of Auxerre and John Scottus Eriugena [pp. 411-434]Geology and the Battle of Maldon [pp. 435-446]The Judges of King John: Their Background and Training [pp. 447-461]The Collapse of the Vaults of Beauvais Cathedral in 1284 [pp. 462-476]Chaucerian Pryvetee and the Opposition to Time [pp. 477-493]ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 494-496]Review: untitled [pp. 496-500]Review: untitled [pp. 500-501]Review: untitled [pp. 502-503]Review: untitled [pp. 504-507]Review: untitled [pp. 507-508]Review: untitled [pp. 508-510]Review: untitled [pp. 510-512]Review: untitled [pp. 512-513]Review: untitled [pp. 513-515]Review: untitled [pp. 515-516]Review: untitled [pp. 516-517]Review: untitled [pp. 517-521]Review: untitled [pp. 522-523]Review: untitled [pp. 524-526]Review: untitled [pp. 526-527]Review: untitled [pp. 527-532]Review: untitled [pp. 532-535]Review: untitled [pp. 535-537]Review: untitled [pp. 538-539]Review: untitled [pp. 539-541]Review: untitled [pp. 541-545]Review: untitled [pp. 545-546]Review: untitled [pp. 546-548]Review: untitled [pp. 548-551]Review: untitled [pp. 552-553]Review: untitled [pp. 554]Review: untitled [pp. 554-555]Review: untitled [pp. 555]Review: untitled [pp. 555]Review: untitled [pp. 556]Review: untitled [pp. 556]Review: untitled [pp. 556]Review: untitled [pp. 557]Review: untitled [pp. 557]

    Proceedings of the Annual Meeting [pp. 558-572]Memoirs of Fellows and Corresponding Fellows of the Mediaeval Academy of America [pp. 573-580]Books Received [pp. 581-587]Back Matter


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