What are downright lies? What are which

The evidence of the lie

Rethage, Lisa (2017) The evidence of the lie.
Dissertation, University of Vienna. Faculty of historical and cultural studies
Supervisor: Müller, Stephan

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Abstract in German

Based on Gumbrecht's and Philipowski's theses that medieval cognitive processes were based on presence effects, the present dissertation examines lies in German-language literature around 1200. In Hartmanns von Aue Erec and Iwein and Gottfried von Straßburg Tristan, lies prove to be very successful and not very problematic. The evaluation of lies is always based on the benefit for the protagonists. In the Nibelungenlied, on the other hand, lies become a problem - because they are believed. They become independent and motivate the catastrophe, although they are almost expected in the second part, which takes place at the Etzelhof. In addition, there is a connection between lies and magic. On the one hand, both are in a competitive relationship with each other: magical instances are repeatedly used to uncover lies and - the other way round - lies are used to render magical powers ineffective. On the other hand, the use of lies like magic generates knowledge levels - because both are usually used in secret. This similarity makes the two poetologically compatible. Lies are also associated with love. If a love that is in conflict with society threatens to become public, the couples lie to prevent this. But even though the couples have to lie all the time, there is a relationship of sincerity between the lovers that forces them to tell the other the truth. Contrary to the above-mentioned premise, lies also prove to be a downright competence in court society. They are suitable for bridging deviations from the Arthurian ideal and ultimately creating it. Nevertheless, there are facts, such as status or identity, that cannot be deceived because they are always recognizable. In the Nibelungenlied, however, the visible is successfully denied - this leads to social collapse. In addition, the literary lie discourse around 1200 opens up perspectives that are reflected in the theological much later. This shows the relevance of literature.

Keywords in German

Lie / medieval literature / 1200

Abstract in English

Based on Gumbrecht's and Philipowski's assumptions, who suppose that medieval knowledge acquisition is distinguished by effects of presence, this doctoral thesis investigates mendacity in German poetry that developed around 1200. In Hartmann's von Aue Erec and Iwein as well as in Gottfried's von Straßburg Tristan lies turn out to be very successful and uncomplicated. The assessment of a lie is based on its usefulness for the protagonist. In contrast the Nibelungenlied shows how lies become a problem, because they are believable. Lies become independent and lead to the disaster, although they almost seem to be expected in the second part, which takes place at Etzel's court. Furthermore, there is a connection between mendacity and magic. On the one hand, both form a contrast: again and again magical authorities shall prove, if a lie is true and - the other way around - lies are used to overcome magic powers. On the other hand, lies as well as magic create different levels of knowledge, because usually both are used in secret. Additionally, lies are linked to love. If a love affair which conflicts with the rules of society might be revealed, the couples lie to keep their secret. But although they have to lie constantly, their relationship is distinguished by sincerity. That is the reason why they have to tell each other the truth. Contrary to Gumbrecht's and Philipowski's thesis mentioned above, in the society of the court lies turn out to be a special skill. Lies are used to avoid differences to the arthurian ideal of courtliness and establish it in the end. Nevertheless, there are issues that cannot be hidden: Nobility or Identity always become noticeable. But in the Nibelungenlied the visible status of Siegfried is successfully denied and leads to the social catastrophe. Furthermore, the literal discourse about mendacity around the year 1200 introduces points of view which can be found in the theological discourse later. This way the significance of poetry becomes obvious.

Keywords in English

mendacity / medieval literature / 1200

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