The Orphan Stone

The Orphan Stone

by Richard Berleth


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The Orphan Stone by Richard Berleth

Americans have long viewed the Middle Ages with an emphasis on Chaucer and the French and Latin traditions. As a result, the later developments of European literature and history often take us by surprise. From our perspective, the Reformation, the birth of capitalism, and the new humanism appear as if from nowhere. The part missing is the history and literature of the German Middle Ages. While German and French publications in this field are common, the world of the German Middle Ages has not been addressed in English for many years. Filling the gap for non-German speakers, The Orphan Stone blends history and literature in a strong narrative line to portray the critical years of the medieval Reich through the eyes of the poets of the holy Roman Empire—the Minnesinger.

Modelled after the French Troubadours, the Minnesinger created brilliant lyrics and narratives that are the foundation of much of German literature and thought. Familiarity with their work and the historical context in which they operated is essential to fully understanding the culture of Freud, Wagner, Mann, Rilke, and writers as diverse as Musil and Kundera. Even the Nazis borrowed symbolism and pageantry from the Minnesinger in their distortions of history. In The Orphan Stone, the Minnesinger come alive as individuals and shake us with their sophistication about men and women in love, and with their ethical sense and human understanding. Two in particular, Walther von der Vogelweide and Gottfried von Strassburg, are acknowledged, along with Goethe, as the finest poetic talents in the German language. The Minnesinger created Tristan, Parzival, the Nibelungs, Kriemhild, and Poor Henry. They also endowed a jewel in the imperial crown, the Orphan Stone of history, with symbolic powers to elevate and ennoble all people on whom it shined. Along with this fable, The Orphan Stone contains many of our most cherished stories and universal myths which were dreamed by the Minnesinger of the medieval Reich.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313268564
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/20/1990
Series: Contributions to the Study of World History Series , #15
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.69(d)
Lexile: 1110L (what's this?)

About the Author

RICHARD J. BERLETH is an Associate Professor of Communications at St. Francis College. He is the author of The Twilight Lords: The Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland (1979) and has published numerous articles on English Literature, World Literature, and Communications. In addition, Dr. Berleth is also an advertising and marketing director. Before returning to teaching in 1986, he was an executive with Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill.

Table of Contents


A View from Freising: 1158

Meeting at Mainz: 1184

March to the Saleph: 1190

A Death at Messina: 1197

To Sing in a Wilderness: 1198

The Beggar's Road: 1210

Love's Outlaws: Strassburg, 1212

The Sun in its Courses: Eisenach, 1217

The Eagle and The Nightingale: 1230

The Knights of Zurich: 1306

Selected Bibliography


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