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Das Strassburger Heldenbuch: Rekonstruktion der Textfassung des Diebolt von Hanowe.

Das Strassburger Heldenbuch. Rekonstruktion der Textfassung des Diebolt von Hanowe. Ed. by WALTER KOFLER. 2 vols. (Goppinger Arbeiten zur Germanistik 667 I-II) Goppingen: Kummerle. 1999. 994 pp. DM 248.

On the evening of 24 April 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the combined libraries of the City of Strasbourg and the Protestant Seminary, which were housed in an extension of the Neue Kirche ('Temple-Neuf '), the church of the former Dominican convent, were set on fire by German artillery and burned to the ground. The loss of this enormous deposit of books (including the Schopflin and Wencker collections, as well as the books assembled from the secularized monasteries and famous treasures such as the Hortus Deliciarum) has imposed severe restrictions on research into Alsatian literary history. One of the German vernacular manuscripts destroyed in the fire was the Strassburger Heldenbuch copied by the goldsmith Diebolt von Hanowe in about 1480, one of a small number of late medieval anthologies of heroic epics (in this case combined with satirical couplet texts) which document this important stage in the popular reception of German heroic epic in towns such as Strasbourg and Nuremberg. The manuscript's closest relatives are the Dresdner Heldenbuch of Kaspar von der Rhon (1472), the Johanniter-Heldenbuch (1476, from Strasbourg and also destroyed in the fire of 1870), the first printed Heldenbuch (1st edition Strasbourg, 1479), and the Piaristenhandschrift or Wiener Heldenbuch copied by Lienhard Scheubel (c.1480-90). The texts contained in the Strassburger Heldenbuch were the Heldenbuchprosa, Ortnit (version iii), Wolfdietrich (version iv), the Rosengarten (version ii), Laurin (version II), Sigenot (version ii), Pfaffe Amis by Der Stricker, an extract from Salmon und Markolf (v. 947-1036), and the 'Mare' Der undankbare Wiedererweckte. With the exception of the last of these texts, all had been transcribed at least once before the manuscript was destroyed, and further sources that shed light on what is lost exist in the form of excerpts, the critical apparatus of published editions, correspondence, and two tracings. The volume under review presents a meticulous reconstruction of the complete text of the lost manuscript, based on a remarkable assembly of sources which, when placed together, themselves form an interesting document of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reception history. Volume I contains an introduction in which the sources are catalogued, a description of the manuscript attempted, and the editorial methods described. The edition is followed, in Volume ii, by an index of names, a concordance with other editions of the nine texts, and an extensive appendix discussing the Heldenbuch in its Strasbourg context and setting it alongside other similarly conceived manuscripts.

The textual critical evidence presented in the final chapters is of considerable significance, pointing for example to an association between the copy for the Strasbourg Heldenbucher and the 'Werkstatt von 1418', but it is not easy to follow. Comprehension is not made easier by the unconventional methods for the marking of variants by different type-faces. Typographically the book is a problem for the reader: too many typefaces, too many changes in pitch, the print far too small and cramped. This is a pity in a book which makes such an important contribution to vernacular manuscript production in the period of transition from script to print.

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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Palmer, Nigel F.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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