The New International Encyclopædia/Gottfried von Strassburg

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GOTTFRIED VON STRASSBURG, sträs'bōōrK (c.1200). The most brilliant of the German poets of the thirteenth century. Of his personality nothing is known save that he was of good family, and held some high public office in Strassburg. His greatest poem, “Tristan and Isolt” (about 1210), is a Celtic legend that reached Germany from France, and was given by Gottfried the form that has widely influenced later literature and furnished Wagner a subject for a great opera. This poem is in 19,552 very polished verses that give to the story of fateful passion a tragic force that is lacking in the French narrative. Gottfried left the poem at the moment when Tristan, parted from Isolt by the jealous uncle and husband, King Mark, has withdrawn to Normandy, and has vainly sought consolation from Isolt of the White Hands. The epic was twice concluded, by Ulrich von Türheim (1236), and by Heinrich von Freiberg (1270), both inferior poets. Gottfried wrote lyrics also, and has been one of the most widely imitated of the German mediæval poets. Gottfried's Works are edited by Bechstein (2 vols., Stuttgart, 1881) with an excellent critical introduction. There are translations of Tristan by Kurz (Stuttgart, 1844), and Simrock (Leipzig, 1855).