Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Nibelungenlied

The Nibelungenlied is a German medieval epic. Track the storyline here. To answer the first question, I’m reading it because, while I feel like I had a sufficient education, there seems like a lot of classic stuff I’m missing out on. Also, I’d like to be broadly read rather than have tunnel vision on a particular area. Sometimes it means I read stuff I have little interest in. Other times, I find gems that I never would have thought I’d have any interest in. This is one of them … for the most part.

The Nibelungenlied was too long, but it was a great walk through medieval honor and chivalry – as well as treachery. I don’t know why, but I often expect books like these – even the Odyssey and the Illiad – to be boring because they’re old, but the passion and fury of battle in them is always exciting. Tarantino could get some mileage out of these books – helmets splitting, blood spurting. Epic battles.

Anyway, I come away from these books impressed with the honor and courage of many of these knights and their brotherhood. Something to aspire to and to instill in my boy. The flip side of this honor and brotherhood is sometimes the demeaning of their sisters or wives and the refusal to confront the treachery of their brothers due to their commitment to one another. I only read through one of these “classics” each year (my ‘to read’ categories are pretty long) so I won’t get to King Arthur and his guys for a couple years, but I’m looking forward to see how/if honor and faithfulness develops more thoroughly.

Either way, there was a lot of good stuff. I don’t know if I brought it out in the series of “Just War?” blog posts, but I distinctly remember the author of When God Says War is Right mentions the medieval warriors who were fierce in battle and honorable off the battlefield. The Nibelungenlied does not fit that mold specifically, but there are traces of it.

This wouldn’t be my most recommended book of the year, but if you’re into medieval lit – or curious about it (you’ve probably read it already if you’re into it) – you might like it.

No comments: