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'Carmina Burana': Texte und Ubersetzungen, Mit den Miniaturen aus der Handschrift.

Schmeller's editio princeps of the Carmina Burana from Munich, Staatsbibliothek, Clm, 4660 (Benediktbeuern, s. [xiii.sup.1]) (B) was published in 1847, printing the text in the order of the manuscript. Since Wilhelm Meyer demonstrated the extent to which leaves were disordered in the binding, all editors have followed his representation of the arrangement. Such utility as Schmeller's text retained as a representation of the manuscript was entirely superseded by the facsimile published in 1967 with an introduction by Bernhard Bischoff. The first edition to present the reconstructed text was that begun with Meyer's help by Alphons Hilka, continued by Otto Schumann, and completed by Bischoff (3930 - 70); the commentary volume, whose publication began simultaneously in 1930, has not been continued, though the remainder is still expected. The text in this edition edits each item critically from all available manuscripts. More accessible and convenient was the edition by Bischoff, with a translation into German verse by C. Fischer and notes by G. Bernt, first published in 1974 and widely used in the Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag edition (1979). This largely reproduced the text of the full critical edition with a few signalled departures, but it did not compete with it as a study text.

Now we have a handsome new one-volume edition by B. K. Vollmann, with a German prose translation and extensive commentary. What is textually distinctive about Vollmann's edition is its attempt to preserve the awareness that one is reading B and to adhere to its reading wherever it makes sense. The result is therefore a compromise between the critical approach of Hilka Schumann and the diplomatic approach of reproducing one manuscript, errors and all. Where the latter form of edition would use the obelus and a note to take the reader to possible improvements, Vollmann, on the relatively rare occasions when he departs from B, uses italics and angle-brackets to mark such departures. A note in the commentary on each poem gives the rejected reading of B, but not the source of the emended text; for this, one must refer to the critical edition. This omission is serious, because it gives more importance to B's defects than to the text as printed; it is the only drawback in treating this as a text for students.

The commentary provides much straightforward information, including details of verse form, authorship where known, approximate date of composition in other cases. Allusions and parallels are carefully noted, while the longer comments headed |Aufbau und Thematik' offer an interpretation of the individual poems and other pieces, including comparisons within the collection. This commentary represents a substantial part of the book (pp. 895-1287), and is well worth having, together with an informative appendix on the names mentioned in the text (pp. 1299-1354), an explanatory glossary of literary and grammatical terms (pp. 1355-77), notes on authors (pp. 1380-90), and a bibliography. I hesitate to describe a book of 1,4I5 pages as compendious but this volume is so compactly produced and attractively printed on fine india paper that it is easy and comfortable to handle, a big book in a small space. It does not supersede the full critical edition and commentary, but it will fill the gap while we await the completion of that commentary. Its greater convenience may well make Vollmann's edition a text of first resort; it is to be hoped that its price will not deter students.
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Author:Sharpe, R.
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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