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Parzival auf dem Zauberberg?

Spuren Wolframs von Eschenbach in Thomas Manns Roman

Kathrin Friedrich


Medieval German literature had a deeper impact on Thomas Mann than is typically assumed. The comparison between Wolfram’s von Eschenbach Parzival and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain illustrates this influence. Nearly 700 years separate both novels, nevertheless, they show amazing parallels. Especially as their narrators are very much alike. Both appear exposed in their stories, utilise Wolfram’s Bogengleichnis, and are unreliable. In addition, they both reflect on their narrations as literary constructs. While Wolfram’s narrator defends his protagonist Parzival for his misdeeds Mann does not bother to do so for Hans Castorp. The heroes and other characters are comparable, but develop differently. Parzival gains knowledge and his identity, whereas Hans Castorp loses both. Parzival fails his first encounter with the grail. Castorp, in contrast, wins a deep insight into life in his Schneetraum; but forgets it immediately. Castorp is as foolish as Parzival when he begins his journey. He is, however, not a grail-quester although Howard Nemerov concludes this in his 1939 dissertation. Yet, the Magic Mountain seems strongly influenced by Parzival. But while the characters in Parzival seek to help the central protagonist, egoism is predominant in the Magic Mountain, the hero stagnates and fails to successfully finish the hero’s journey.

Albrecht Classen


One of our central challenges as medievalists consists of how to respond to the question regarding the relevance of medieval literature and other documents. This article suggests that we can easily draw from medieval heroic literature where ideal and also negative examples of successful/failed leadership are provided. The MHG Nibelungenlied, at least in the first part, illustrates dramatically the consequences of a weak, indecisive, impulsive, and manipulable ruler, whose actions ultimately trigger a whole sequence of hatred, violence, and slaughter. The Old Spanish El Poema de Mío Cid sets out almost at the same point, with the protagonist being exiled because of malignment, but in the course of events, he demonstrates convincingly what makes a true, honorable, admirable, and worthy leader. These two epic poems can serve powerfully as illustrations of failed and successful leadership, and can thus offer significant instructions for modern concerns in politics, business, administration, the church, schools, and universities.

John M. Jeep


This article researches alliterating word-pairs in Wolframs ‘Parzival’. First, all examples from the text are collected and analyzed to elucidate their occurrence in the Old and Middle High German context. It becomes clear which word-pairs have been inherited from Old and (Early) Middle High German, and which were possibly the making of Wolfram himself. In doing so, the inventory of alliterating word-pairs in the early language phases of German is expanded with a few more specimens. We also gain a deeper understanding of their role in the Middle High German courtly novel.

Arend Quak


The vernacular glosses in the manuscript Trier, Seminarbibliothek 61, are considered to be mainly Old Middle Franconian in the scientific literature. They are, however, mixed with Low German words, that are considered to be Old Saxon. With the help of the verb forms in these glosses this article tries to make probable that at least some of these Low German glosses are more likely to be Old Low Franconian than Old Saxon. At the same time it becomes clear that in the dictionaries the difference between weak ēn- and ōn-verbs in a number of cases is wrong or at least doubtful.

Elmar Seebold


Gmc. and oir. *orbho- ‘inheritance’ can be derived from the preliminary stage of oir. erbaid ‘entrust’; gr., lt. and arm. *orbho- ‘orphan’ could be derived from a word with prothetic vowel o- and reflect a root *rebh-. From these possibilities can be deduced that the two orbo’s are different words from beginning.

Erika Langbroek and Francis Brands


It may be that the French and German authors of La vie du pape Grégoire and Gregorius were so influenced by classical texts as part of their education that these Gregorian legends contain motifs and structural elements of a classical comedy or tragedy. Therefore these legends are compared with twelve comedies by Plautus and Terence.