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The Nibelungenlied

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,299 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
Written by an unknown author in the twelfth century, this powerful tale of murder and revenge reaches back to the earliest epochs of German antiquity, transforming centuries-old legend into a masterpiece of chivalric drama. Siegfried, a great prince of the Netherlands, wins the hand of the beautiful princess Kriemhild of Burgundy, by aiding her brother Gunther in his strug ...more
Paperback, 404 pages
Published August 26th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1200)
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Best German/Austrian Literature
32nd out of 612 books — 771 voters
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Best Middle Ages Books
51st out of 974 books — 1,196 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Adonis Devereux
Jan 29, 2013 Adonis Devereux rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 14, 2010 Tommy added it
Shelves: 2010, 12th-century-ad
As with Shakespeare's Pericles, I have a great deal of affection for the Nibelungenlied on account of the conflict in its structure. The poet (lost now) has had to wrangle together two conflicting folk traditions into a single story. His or her achievement here is subtle and remarkable.

Northrop Frye says that a central trait of epic is a change of mode and subject halfway through the poem. The Odyssey, the Aeneid and Paradise Lost all switch tack in the middle: Odysseus' and Aeneas' romantic wan
Ronald Morton
Feb 24, 2016 Ronald Morton rated it it was amazing
How bad*** do you want your epics to be?

Do you want someone to hit someone else so hard that the plains shake and gouts of red fire shoot from the impact? How about someone throwing a boulder 20 fathoms and then leaping just as far?

And, if you don’t, what’s wrong with you?

This book/epic/lay is amazingly over the top, and at the same time is one of the greatest examples of medieval literature that has not been lost to antiquity. Any one who has read and enjoyed Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Aelfric’
Oscar Gonzalez
Feb 16, 2014 Oscar Gonzalez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sepan-cuantos
Si tuviera que decir, con la menor cantidad de palabras posible, cual es el tema del libro, diría que se trata de La Lealtad. La lealtad en todas sus formas y en todas sus motivaciones. Siegfried es leal a Gunther para poder casarse con Kriemhild; la soberbia ilimitada de Hagen se deriva de su lealtad a Brunhild, su Señora. Al principio, Rüdiger se niega a combatir a los Burgundios, quienes son sus huéspedes, y se siente obligado a respetarlos, pero termina atacándolos por lealtad a Etzel (Atila ...more
Mar 07, 2012 Lucas rated it it was amazing
Seigfried is my favorite mythical hero. He's kinda like a German Achilles without the 20+ chapters of pouting. He is a fierce warrior but also childlike and innocent in many ways. I just wanted the guy to win, and that's what he does for half the book. Then some cat-fight between his wife and his brother-in-law's wife escalates into his murder.

Then for the second half of the book, his widow plots revenge by marrying Attila the Hun and inviting her whole family to their last celebration. I was li
Nov 14, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
As is probably true of many if not most readers of this work, I explored it primarily because of my interest in and enjoyment of Richard Wagner’s great four-opera work, Der Ring des Nibelungen. I wished to read what was clearly part of his source material for the libretto and plot he created, and I wanted to see how closely the one work corresponded with the other.

Written in Middle High German around 1200 CE, the legends comprising the written work reach back much farther into the past. Its them
The Middle High German Nibelungenlied is thought to date from around 1180 to 1210 and is preserved in 35 known manuscripts. The poem probably originates from the Austrian Danube region. The poet, after much scholarly work, still remains a mystery, with theories on the poet's identity ranging from a Meister Konrad to the famous Walther von der Vogelweide.

The poem seems to have been popular during the Middle Ages with the vast amount of manuscripts in existence and the story seems to have remained
I've read the story of Siegfried and Brunhild elsewhere, in the Norse versions/origin, the Eddas and the Saga of the Volsungs, but it was good to read this expanded edition. It's well translated by Hatto, who also translated my copy of von Strassburg's Tristan, and whose work I can recommend, at least insofar as it's readable and accessible, but keeps an "archaic" sort of flavour -- I can't say if it really keeps the voice of the narrator, of course. What I mean is, it doesn't modernise it so th ...more
Czarny Pies
Jan 18, 2015 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Northern European Mythology
Recommended to Czarny by: Richard Wagner
Shelves: german-lit, mythology
I saw the four operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle over twenty years finished in 1983. Since that time I have been to read the source story and finally had the strange impulse to do so last Friday.

I chose to read French prose version from the 20th century rather than the epic poem composed in Medieval German in the 13th century. This meant essentially that I missed most of the work's literary value but probably succeeded in my effort to gain marginal insight into Wagner's creative process.

The first im
Bryn Hammond
Feb 11, 2012 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-and-romance
May I defend the Nibelungenlied against charges of misogyny?

Brunhild warns her suitors: “He will have to cast the weight, follow through with a leap, and then throw the javelin with me. Do not be too hasty – you may well lose your lives and your reputations here,” said the charming woman. “Consider it very closely.” And Hatto footnotes, There is always a touch of burlesque when Brunhild goes into action. I like you, A.T. Hatto; you translated a steppe epic, bless you; but why is this burlesque?
Jul 18, 2016 Sabina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skrajšan in odličen prevod nemške epske pesnitve Pesem o Nibelungih, katere prejšnje različice so se ohranjale v ustnem izročilu – pesnitev so prepevali. V času visokega srednjega veka je neznan pisatelj »besedilo« prenesel pergament. Gre za čas, ko začne cveteti pesništvo in literatura na splošno na nemških dvorih. Mnoge od teh pesnitev in pesmi (dvorska epika in lirika) so nastale kot prevod ali kot povzemanje literarnih snovi bodisi iz antike bodisi iz Francije.

Vrednost te pesnitve pa je v te
Sep 05, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Sterne für diese doch recht gelungene Ausgabe.

Der Anhang ist vom Inhalt her sehr reichlich bestückt, und auch die OPtik des Nibelungenlieds selbst ist gut auf das Mittelhochdeutsch/Neuhochdeutche abgestimmt.
Allein bei der Übersetzung musste ich ein paar Mal die Stirn runzeln, da diese an einigen Stellen doch sehr amüsant klang.

May 24, 2016 Wynn rated it liked it
My mother read this story to me when I was little, and I loved it. Reading it again, as an adult, left me with this satisfying and gratifying vibe of nostalgia and amusement.
A wonderful little tale about European kings, queens, lords, ladies, and liegemen, The Nibelungenlied is a work of fantastical fantasy that inspired many other fictional books. I was delighted with this book; however, towards the end I did find it all to escalate very quickly and felt tired with it.
All in all, my favorite
Mark Adderley
Oct 23, 2009 Mark Adderley rated it it was ok
This is an intriguing read, but not necessarily a very pleasant one. I read it to complement my reading of The Song of Roland, and intend to read The Poem of the Cid afterwards.

The Nibelungenlied is on the list of Great Books of the Western World, but I don't quite see why. The characterization is wildly inconsistent. Kriemhild, for example, is portrayed as a virtuous woman for the first half of the tale, but then as an evil schemer for the second half. Hagen of Troneg as an evil schemer for the
While largely less exciting than the Scandinavian version (Volsunga saga), and often bogged down in lengthy, trivial and uninteresting descriptions such as the kinds of dresses that girls are wearing as they bustle about, The Nibelungenlied none the less is a uniquely introspective work of courtly literature that takes a more self-conscious look at High Medieval social expectations than even such monumental contemporary authors as Chrétien de Troyes. The Nibelungenlied manages to entangle countl ...more
Jul 07, 2011 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"Following this his stalwarts were furnished with clothes lines with vari-colored squirrel."

"I shall not keep this momentous news from whatever trusty followers I may have; rather shall I complain of it to my friends."

"They alone die that are doomed."

"Their battered shields were taken away to store, and orders were given for the bloodstained saddles (of which there were so many) to be hidden away lest the ladies me moved to tears."

"I heartily regret our visit to this court."

"A soldier of fortune
Stuart Macalpine
Apr 08, 2012 Stuart Macalpine rated it it was amazing
The Song of the Nibelungen makes the average Hollywood action movie look like Telly Tubbies. When Kriemhilde is trying to burn the hall that Hagen is holed up in with 600 troops, he easily puts out the fire brands she throws in... by submerging the flames in the knee high blood from the thousands he has just slaughtered in there... whose blood he later drinks when they are starved of water and needs refreshment between battles... But there is more to it than that, particularly in the first half. ...more
May 09, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, adventure
Here's a story that's flawed in every respect, yet manages to be a fairly endearing read--if you are interested in mythology, that is. The version I read was a prose novelization of the epic poem, which I think is probably the best way to experience this. Keep in mind that every scene of the novel basically revolves around either violent bloodshed, the preparation of beautiful clothing, or copious amounts of gift-giving. If that doesn't sound like your kind of thing, take a pass. The writing its ...more
John Wiswell
May 09, 2008 John Wiswell rated it it was amazing
A brilliant epic that speaks across the centuries to the modern condition despite its trappings of myths, outmoted violence and larger than life characters. It is essentially two stories linked at the middle: the rise of a hero, and what happens to the country when it kills its heroes. On various levels it is a war epic, a commentary on sentimentalism and the importance of idols, and a shrewd look into primal politics. Siegfried, Kriemhild, Gunther, Hagen and Brunhild are all interesting charact ...more
May 13, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read a 1961 reissue of this book --which I first saw at my high school library. It's a big book, beautifully bound, with illustrations by Edy Legrand that look like they were done in chalk originally -- very evocative of mid-20th century "legit fantasy", and the whole production conjures up a world of people reading the Paris Review and going to museums in midtown Manhattan.

The introduction is also quite fascinating -- written in the late 50s, it's a kind of defense of the story agai
Shervin Ghiami
Sep 14, 2015 Shervin Ghiami rated it really liked it

Die Nibelungenlied is one of those rare mythical pieces of literature that has survived the test of time(kind of) which also provides a compelling and detailed narrative. It is effective split into two segments, one revolving around Siegfried's might and magnanimity as he wins Gunther his Icelandic goddess bride as successfully procures Gunther's sister Kriemhild as his own, ending disappointingly in his betrayal.In the second half of the story, Kriemhild has been married to a Hungarian king,
Joel Mitchell
Jan 17, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-plays
The Nibelungenlied offers a "courtly" version of the barbaric stories found in the Norse Volsung Saga. In this version, supernatural elements are toned down and the action takes place under a highly developed feudal system where lords command armies of thousands and great men act according the the laws of chivalry. In my opinion, this "courtly" version has a more coherent plot and characters who are much more fleshed-out than the Norse "heroic" version. The characters have actual personalities, ...more
I'd really really love to see this as a movie (well maybe a little bit less bloody). It could be pretty epic.
Feb 21, 2010 Tracy rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Blood, gore, doomed romance, treachery, riches, fashion...Men killing their friends due to the petty perfidy of women...what's not to like? I've loved the sagas, and while this one is admittedly not my favorite I still enjoyed it. The warriors, while chopping each other up a la "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" still manage snarky comments and lengthy, emotive soliloquies with their dying breaths.
Feb 18, 2016 Beth added it
An epic poem broken into two distinct parts: a first half centered on the great heroic knight Siegfried, his victories, his wooing of lady Kriemhild, and his betrayal and murder. Second half follows those responsible for his death and Kriemhild as she plots her revenge. Somehow, in the course of the second half, the murderer Hagen becomes the hero and the widow, ruined by bitterness and hatred, becomes a "she-devil" responsible for many good soldiers' deaths. This was difficult for me to reconci ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Callsign222 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, epic-poetry
This thing got me started into the epic poetry/saga genre. In High School we had to read two boring chapters out of this book. I didn't touch it again until college, and I realized how the school system fails literature. The entire book is battle, blood drinking, and more battle. Obviously we didn't read that in high school, someone might have been offended! Oh no!
Clara Mazzi
Oct 17, 2014 Clara Mazzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La meraviglia di questo poema sta nel fatto che pur essendo un vero e proprio romanzo cortese con tutti gli annessi e connessi - gli stereotipi: i cavalieri sono sempre nobili e forti, le dame sono sempre belle; il cerimoniale di corte, le (ripetitive descrizioni) delle vesti, delle armi, dei tornei dei tenzoni - ebbene, nonostante tutto questo esso riesce a dipingere delle scene fortissime, riesce a far trapelare qualche sentimento forte a ciascun personaggio, riesce soprattutto a farti arrivar ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Rozemarijn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni-lectuur
I'm proud I got through this. It was a fight. I felt like I was one of the knights who were killed awfully. It's descriped pretty explicit in the book. Just like the beauty of clothing, fashion has a big part here, you wouldn't expect that! Fashion and fights. There you go Middle Ages!
Apr 18, 2014 Ernesto rated it really liked it
I read a shorter, censored version of this monumental epic when I was a teen (ages ago) and since then I wanted to read the complete version. Since I don't know Middle High German and have a very tenuous grasp of modern German had to settle for the English translation freely available from Project Gutenberg, a fantastic edition complete with a long introduction about the history and composition of the poem and heavily annotated with useful footnotes. Great story of medieval chivalry packed with ...more
Oct 27, 2011 Alex marked it as to-read
The hell is this thing?
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2015 Reading Chal...: Nibelungenlied by Anonymous 1 8 Mar 13, 2015 12:13AM  
  • The Saga of the Volsungs
  • Tristan: With the Tristran of Thomas
  • The Kalevala
  • Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas (World's Classics)
  • Parzival
  • The Prose Edda
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
  • Erec
  • Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen
  • Orlando Furioso
  • Early Irish Myths and Sagas
  • The Ring of the Nibelung
  • Arthurian Romances
  • The Lais of Marie De France: With Two Further Lais in the Original Old French
  • Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte
  • The Romance of the Rose
Books can be attributed to "Unknown" when the author or editor (as applicable) is not known and cannot be discovered. If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using "Unknown".

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