Lida Kirchberger (Universityof Wisconsin)
Monatshefte: Vol. 48, No. 5 (Oct., 1956), pp. 261-272
Among the many unsolved problems which continue to exercise the mind of the student of the the one receiving directly Nibelunmgenlied, and indirectly the greatest attention today is that of the positiontaken by the Nibelungenlied in relation to the other poetical works of the period in which it was given its final form. In the twentieth century such eminent scholars as Heusler, Schneider,and Ehrismannhave adhered to the clear distinction made in the nineteenth century between the courtly epic and the popular or heroic epic, though they do not deny that the Nibelungenlied contains elements which might well be described as courtly. Such elements have been made the subject of several special studies,the most comprehensive of which is a dissertation by Nelly Diirrenmatt inspired by de Boor and published in 1945.
After giving a brief account of earlier researchon various aspects of the same problem, the author devotes the greater part of her own study to a comparison of typical forms and ceremonies of courtly life as depicted in the Nibelungenlied with those described by the courtly epic poets. In the second and shorter part of her book Nelly Diirrenmatt compares some of the characters, notably the women, of the Nibelungenlied with their counterparts in courtly literature and examines their actions and motives in the light of courtly ethics.