Its source was the Roman de Tristan by the… The dates of his birth and death are unknown, and the only information about him consists of references to him in the work of other poets and inferences from his own work. The breadth of learning displayed in Tristan und Isolde reveals that he must have enjoyed the fullest education offered by the cathedral and monastery schools of the Middle Ages. Together with the authoritative tone of his writing, this background indicates that, although not himself of noble birth, he spent his life in the society of the wellborn. Tristan was probably written about Gottfried is thus a literary contemporary of Hartmann von Aue , Walther von der Vogelweide , and Wolfram von Eschenbach.
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Life[ edit ] Other than an origin in or close association with Strasbourg , nothing is known of his life. It would seem, however, that he was a man of good birth and position, who filled an important municipal office in his native city of Strasbourg,  but since he is always referred to in German as Meister master and not Herr sir , it seems safe to assume he was not a knight, a conclusion supported by the rather dismissive attitude toward knightly exploits shown in Tristan.
His thorough familiarity with Latin literature and rhetorical theory suggest someone who had enjoyed a high level of monastic education. He also shows detailed technical knowledge of music and hunting, far beyond anything found in the works of his contemporaries. Gottfried draws more on the learned tradition of medieval humanism than on the chivalric ethos shared by his major literary contemporaries.
He also appears to have been influenced by the writings of contemporary Christian mystics , in particular Bernard of Clairvaux. Although he was highly educated, it is almost certain that he was not a priest. Of this his occasional sneers at the clergy are perhaps a better proof than the morality of much of his work. It is incredibly complex, marked by the extensive use of symmetrical structure in his organization of Tristan as a whole, as well as in the structure of individual passages.
Gottfried also uses detailed word and sound patterns, playing with such things as rhyme, alliteration, and assonance. See Batts for a detailed analysis. He may also have relied on irony to disguise his criticisms of contemporary society in order to avoid censure.
Sources[ edit ] Gottfried states that the Tristan of Thomas of Britain , an Anglo-French work of around , was the source of his work. Text[ edit ] The text of Tristan is 19, lines long, and is written, like all courtly romances , in rhyming couplets. The first section ll.
The initial letters of the quatrains, indicated by large initials in some manuscripts , form an acrostic with the names Gotefrid-Tristan-Isolde, which runs throughout the poem.
If Gottfried had completed Tristan it would probably have been around 24, lines long. Blanschfleur becomes pregnant and the couple steal back to Parmenie, but Riwalin is killed in battle. When she hears the news, Blanschfleur dies, but the baby is delivered and survives. He is named Tristan because of the sorrowful circumstances of his birth.
While on board a merchant ship which has docked in Parmenie, Tristan is abducted by the Norwegian crew. Once at sea, the ship is struck by a tempest, the crew conclude that they are being punished by God for abducting Tristan, so they set him ashore in a country that turns out to be Cornwall. Tristan is knighted. Cornwall is being forced to pay tribute to the Gurmun, King of Ireland , collected by his brother, the monstrous Morold.
He is struck by the beauty and accomplishments of her daughter, Isolde the Fair, and returns to Cornwall singing her praises. Hoping that he will be killed in the process, they suggest Tristan be sent to Ireland to woo Isolde for Marke.
Her mother and her kinswoman Brangaene intervene and Tristan explains the purpose of his journey, which leads to a reconciliation between Ireland and Cornwall.
Tristan leaves for Cornwall with Isolde as a bride for Marke. Isolde the Wise has given Brangaene a magic potion to be drunk by Marke and Isolde on their wedding night to ensure their love. On the voyage, however, it is drunk by Tristan and Isolde by mistake. They avow their love for each other, but know that it cannot be made public, and they enjoy a brief idyll on board before arriving in Cornwall. This is followed by a series of intrigues in which the lovers attempt to dupe Marke, starting with the wedding night, when the virgin Brangaene substitutes for Isolde in the marriage bed.
Eventually, Marke resigns himself to their love and banishes them from court. They go off into the wilderness, to a Love Grotto, where they enjoy an idyllic life away from society. By accident, Marke discovers the grotto and sees them lying side by side. However, aware of his approach, Tristan has placed his sword between himself and Isolde, duping Marke into believing that perhaps they are not lovers after all.
With their secret hideaway discovered, the lovers return to court. Tristan creates a hall of statues, with statues of Isolde and Brangaene. Tristan is wounded with a poisoned spear by Estult li Orgillus, and sends for Isolde the Fair, who is the only one who can cure him. It is agreed that the ship sent for her will bear a white sail if it returns with her on board, but a black sail if not.
However, the jealous Isolde of the White Hands lies about the colour of the sail, and Isolde the Fair arrives to find Tristan dead of grief. She kisses him and dies.
While Tristan has all the accomplishments of a knight, questions of chivalric ethos are irrelevant to the story and the role of the fighting man in society, central to the works of Hartmann von Aue and Wolfram von Eschenbach , is never at issue. Contemporary heroes fall in love with a lady because of her beauty and her moral worth.
Tristan and Isolde, in spite of their physical beauty and many accomplishments, which cause them to be generally adored, fall in love not for any such explicable reason, but because the love potion leaves them no choice.
This "exaltation of love" has led some critics to see Tristan as effectively heretical, with Tristan and Isolde as "saints" of a religion of love, though how such a work could have been repeatedly read and copied at 13th century courts remains puzzling.
Does the use of religious language imagery for the lovers mean that they represent an alternative religion, or is this simply a technique to communicate their exemplary role and the sublime nature of their love? Alternatively, some critics see the work not as a pure exaltation of love, but rather as an exploration of the conflict between passionate love and courtly social order.
That Tristan is not knightly represents a rejection of the norms of feudal society; he allows himself to be guided by love and physical passion rather than chivalry. The deaths of Tristan and Isolde would then seem inevitable, in that their love could not overcome the contemporary social order. The role of the potion remains contentious - is it: simply a narrative device, of no import in itself, but required to deflect moral criticism?
The story itself also raises problems. If love is the supreme value, why do Tristan and Isolde leave their idyllic life in the Love Grotto, to return to a life of occasional secret trysts? Some have even argued that Gottfried abandoned the work, unable to solve these contradictions.
Gottfried and his contemporaries[ edit ] One of the most important passages in Tristan, one which owes nothing to Thomas, is the so-called literary excursus, in which Gottfried names and discusses the merits of a number of contemporary lyric and narrative poets.
This is the first piece of literary criticism in German. Conversely, he criticises, without naming him directly, Wolfram von Eschenbach for the obscurity of his style and the uncouthness of his vocabulary.
Of these 11 are complete. Full details are provided in the Marburger Repertorium. Only one has no continuation at all. However, there is still no satisfactory critical edition and three editions are in use: Friedrich Ranke Weidmann , with corrections This is the standard edition, but contains no critical apparatus.
Gottfried von Strassburg
Tristan himself is technically the love-child of a pair of lovers whose embracing of the struggle and yearning that love requires clearly inspires the admiration of Gottfried. As Tristan learns that he is the son of Rivalin, and so the rightful lord of Parmenie, he decides to avenge the murder of his father as his first duel. In that duel, he kills the brother of the Irish queen, and the only one who can cure him of the poisoned wound he sustained, and that is how he first comes into contact with that great lady, Queen Isolde, and the beautiful daughter who bears her name. They heal him, and he comes to admire young Isolde as he is employed as her tutor, so when he returns to England, his talking about her inspires Mark that she should be his queen. Tristan returns to the country to kill its dragon, and thereby secure her for his king. King Mark is constantly presented with the possibility by two power-hungry members of court, and the lovers are constantly outsmarting them.
Godofredo de Estrasburgo
Tristan (Gottfried von Straßburg)