Eilhart von Oberge was a
German poet of the late 12th century.
He is known
exclusively through his Middle High
, the oldest surviving complete
version of the Tristan and Iseult
story in any language. Tristrant
is part of the "common"
or "primitive" branch of the legend, best known through Béroul
's fragmentary Norman language Tristan
. It is
German literature's first rendition of the story, though Gottfried von Strassburg
, part of the "courtly" branch, is more famous and
It is usually considered that Eilhart adapted his work from French
source, likely the same one used by Béroul, but the differences
and Béroul's work suggest that Eilhart
was not particularly faithful to the original. Some episodes and
details appearing in surviving fragments of Béroul are altered or
omitted entirely, for instance Iseult
equivocal oath of fidelity to her husband Mark
(in Béroul she swears she has had no
man "between her legs" besides Mark and a beggar who carries her
over a stream on his back; the beggar is really her lover Tristan
in disguise.) Tristrant
preserves scenes that do not survive in the known French fragments,
most notably the conclusion; it contains the earliest known telling
of Tristan's banishment and marriage to the second Iseult
(the daughter of
of the lovers' deaths in a tragic turn of events.
Because of its relatively early date of composition, its
relationship to Béroul's common branch, and its relatively intact
state, Eilhart's Tristrant
is of interest to scholars
documenting the development of the Tristan and Iseult legend.
French academic Joseph Bédier
used it as the template for his Romance of Tristan and
, his attempt to reconstruct what the story may have
been like in its earliest state (the so-called "Ur-Tristan.") Its
esteem as a work of literature, however, often suffers in
comparison to the other major versions. For example, Lacy
Mancroff's The Arthurian Handbook
says the poem is
"overshadowed" by Gottfried's masterful version and provides its
characters with weak psychological motivations, though it is still
"worthy of admiration."
- The Arthurian Handbook, pp. 100–101.
- Kalinke, Marianne E. (1991). "Eilhart von Oberge." In
Lacy, The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, pp. 127–128. New
York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
- The Arthurian Handbook, pp. 88–90.
- Jaeger, Stephen C. (1991). "Gottfried von Strassburg." In Lacy,
Norris J. (Ed.), The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, pp.
206–211. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-4377-4.
- The Romance of Tristan.
- The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, pp. 205–206.
- Bédier, Joseph; Belloc, Hilaire (translator) (1994). The
Romance of Tristan and Iseult. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN
- Béroul; Fedrick, Alan S. (translator) (1978). The Romance
of Tristan: The Tale of Tristan's Madness. New York: Penguin.
- Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (1991).
The New Arthurian Encyclopedia. New York: Garland. ISBN
- Lacy, Norris J.; Ashe, Geoffrey; and Mancroff, Debra N. (1997).
The Arthurian Handbook. New York: Garland. ISBN