The Nibelungenlied: Prose Translation (Penguin Classics)
A. T. Hatto
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A story of guile, treachery, loyalty and desperate courage
This great German epic poem of murder and revenge recounts with particular strength and directness the progress of Siegfried's love for the peerless Kriemhild, the wedding of Gunther - her brother - and Brunhild, the quarrel between the two queens, Hagen's treacherous murder of Siegfried, and Kriemhild's eventual triumph.
Composed nearly eight hundred years ago by an unnamed poet, the Nibelungenlied is the principal literary expression of those heroic legends of which Richard Wagner made such free use in The Ring. A. T. Hatto's translation transforms an old text into a story as readable and exciting as Homer's Iliad.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
grim years of widowhood and exile have robbed her of the power to do so. Though outwardly she may have warmed to Rüdiger’s daughter (p. 169) and proved a worthy successor to Queen Helchè (p. 176), her heart is frozen over. Yet, as we have seen (p. 307), the hot fount of her revenge was her love for her young husband, thwarted and turned to hatred for his slayer, a love that we may well call vast when we measure it by its obverse. Impelled by this fury that possesses her, she now kills Hagen, the
supreme moment of the heroic imagination, like that of the Roland when the hero at last blows his horn, and blows so loud that his temples burst while Charles catches its echoes in far-off France. The zest, colour, and robust good sense of the Cid are absent from the tense and ruthless Nibelungenlied, whose moments of high chivalry are a little overdone. It lacks the naive charm of the Cattle Raid of Cooley, that prose epic with a perfect plot, in which the bulls of Ulster and Connaught settle
if this had not been the case we should have had to admit that he was one of the best that ever sat on horseback. Many feared his strength of body, and how right they were to do so. CHAPTER TWELVE How Gunther invited Siegfried to the festival Now Gunther’s queen was thinking, all this time: ‘How comes it that lady Kriemhild can carry her head so high while her husband Siegfried is our vassal? It is a long time since he rendered us any dues.’1 Such were the thoughts which she nursed in
Siegfried’s death without ever being able to forget it. She held him in loyal remembrance, as all the world concedes. CHAPTER TWENTY How King Etzel sent to Burgundy for Kriemhild AT the time when the lady Helche died and King Etzel desired to take another queen, his friends counselled him to woo a proud widow of Burgundy whose name was lady Kriemhild.1 Now that lovely Helche was dead, ‘If you wish to win the hand of a noble woman, the best and most exalted that any king ever had, then
they all assented. Sounds of merrymaking rose on the air, but at length they had to make an end. The young lady was sent back to her apartment and the guests were invited to retire and rest themselves till the morrow. Breakfast was prepared in the morning, and their host attended kindly to their needs. When they had partaken of their meal, they said they would set out for Hungary. ‘I shall see to it that you do not,’ said their most noble host. ‘You must stay here; for never did I have guests