|About the Book|
Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170 – c. 1220) was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.Little is known of Wolframs life. There are no historical documents which mention him, and his works are the sole source of evidence. In Parzival he talks of wir Beier (we Bavarians) and the dialect of his works is East Franconian. This and a number of geographical references have resulted in the present-day Wolframs-Eschenbach, previously Obereschenbach, near Ansbach in Bavaria, being officially designated as his birthplace. However, the evidence is circumstantial and not without problems - there are at least four other places named Eschenbach in present-day Bavaria, and Wolframs-Eschenbach was not part of Bavaria in Wolframs time.The arms shown in the Manesse manuscript come from the imagination of a 14th-century artist, drawing on the figure of the Red Knight in Parzival, and have no heraldic connection with Wolfram.Wolframs work indicates a number of possible patrons (most reliably Hermann I of Thuringia), which suggests that he served at a number of courts during his life. In his Parzival he claims he is illiterate and recorded the work by dictation, though the claim is treated with scepticism by scholars.Wolfram is best known today for his Parzival, sometimes regarded as the greatest of all German epics from that time. Based on Chrétien de Troyes Perceval, le Conte du Graal, it is the first extant work in German to have as its subject the Holy Grail. In the poem, Wolframs narrator expresses disdain for Chrétiens (unfinished) version of the tale, and states that his source was a poet from Provence called Kyot. Some scholars believe Wolfram might have meant Guiot de Provins (though none of the latters surviving works relate to the themes of Parzival), however others believe Kyot was simply a literary device invented by Wolfram to explain his deviations from Chrétiens version.Wolfram is the author of two other narrative works: the unfinished Willehalm and the fragmentary Titurel. These were both composed after Parzival, and Titurel mentions the death of Hermann I, which dates it firmly after 1217. Wolframs nine surviving songs, five of which are dawn-songs, are regarded as masterpieces of Minnesang.