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The Nibelungenlied

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  3,135 ratings  ·  161 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. Siegfried, prince of the Netherlands, wins the hand of princess Kriemhild of Burgundy but is ultimately destroyed by those he trusts most.
Paperback, 404 pages
Published April 30th 1965 by Penguin Classics (first published 1200)
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Best Middle Ages Books
42nd out of 793 books — 970 voters
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Best German/Austrian Literature
31st out of 547 books — 503 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Adonis Devereux
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tommy
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
...more
Oscar Gonzalez
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
Lucas
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
...more
Bruce
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
...more
Nikki
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
Kate
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.

Mark Adderley
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
...more
Matthew
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
Sophie
"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
...more
Bryn Hammond
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?
...more
Stuart Macalpine
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
John
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
Tracy
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.
Callsign222
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
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
Rozemarijn
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!
Ernesto
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
James Oden
I very rarely rate a book as a 10, even if I like it very much. The thing about the Nibelungenlied, is that even though I did like it very much, there was something even deeper to this book that really made me think that it was a must read book. I suppose it would have to be that way to be a story that has lived for so long and traveled through multiple cultures to arrive in my hands, the hands of one who lives in a wildly different culture than that of "The Nibelungenlied". Despite that, the bo ...more
Baylee
I tedeschi non sono proprio famosi per il loro umorismo. Certo se leggiamo ne I Nibelunghi il verso perché sempre la gioia si volge in dolore, possiamo anche capirne il motivo.

Sembra, infatti, che al di là dei ben noti temi della vendetta, dell'onore, del prestigio sociale, ci sia la convinzione di una inevitabile caduta dalle stelle alle stalle. All'inizio del poema, o comunque prima che un personaggio entri nelle vicende, tutti sono in uno stato di grazia: ricchi, amati, pieni di virtù e belle
...more
Susan
Jun 17, 2011 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mythology lovers.
*TWO-SENTENCE BACKGROUND INFO:
This mix of a historical fiction and mythological story is the national epic of Germany. It is a gripping tale of revenge, love, and murder.

*REVIEW: (BIT OF A SPOILER)
I read the excerpt of HOW SIEGFRIED WAS SLAIN.
And let me tell you, all I have to say is that I hated this ending. I do like mythology, but the ending was overwhelming for me. Although I liked the characters and the driving plot throughout this story (I haven't read the whole story), but I utterly desp
...more
Jessica
On the plus side, the pervasive misogyny reminded me why I'm a feminist and the pervasive violence reminded me why I'm not a fan of troglodyte politics. Also, the explanatory footnotes were really helpful in understanding the culture, even though the translation was a bit awkward at times (which may have been due to the source material, but I was hoping for something a bit more lyrically written).

On the negative side, I really hated reading it. None of the characters were particularly sympathet
...more
Sandra
The thing about this book is, that I had to read it. If I hadn't had to read it for the university, I probably would've given up. The story is good, quite interesting even, and I very much appreciated that the characters (especially the women) didn't seem to conform to what in my opinion is the Medieval standard.

But the translation of the epos was.. awkward. I think the original text worked a lot better than the translation. It's not that the translation was badly done, on the contrary, I applau
...more
Marie
It's easy to see why this is called "The German Illiad" - much like the Illiad, we have heroes star-crossed to destroy one another, crying for their fallen comrades, dying in each other's arms - and it's all a woman's fault.

Side-stepping the tasty misogyny, the story itself is fast-paced, full of pathos, and avoids religion like it didn't even really exist in the 12th century. (Woot! There's a scene where Krimhild asks if she shouldn't be ashamed to marry a pagan and the response given is that E
...more
sabina
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
...more
Tony Calder
For those not familiar with this work, this is the epic German poem from the early 13th century that Wagner used as an inspiration for his Ring cycle of operas. Written as a poem, this translation by Professor Hatto is in prose format, which makes it more accessible to casual readers, but perhaps loses some of the qualities that make poetry special.

This story was not original, being a combination of two or three earlier sagas, reaching back to the 6th century, but the unknown author has done a g
...more
Robert Sheppard


A TALE OF TWO RINGS: EPIC AND ARCHETYPE IN TOLKIEN'S "LORD OF THE RINGS“ & WAGNER'S "THE RING OF THE NIBELUNGEN"---PLUS "THE NORSE PROSE EDDA," "THE VOLSUNGA SAGA" AND THE "NIBELUNGENLIED"-----FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT SHEPPARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF



THE TALE OF THE TWO RINGS: TOLKIEN'S "LORD OF THE RINGS" AND WAGNER'S "RING OF THE NIBELUNGEN"


J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" is one of the most beloved fantasy epics of
...more
Tom Meade
As someone with fond memories of reading collections of Norse myths as a kid, I found The Nibelungenlied to be a surprisingly well-realised attempt by the poet to integrate disparate pagan and Christian sources into a story of courtly love, vile deceptions, and intrigue upon intrigue. The translator spends a lot of time banging-on about comparisons with Homer in the appendices, and really this is a very fine example of the sort of poem one might write if one was attempting to slowly distance the ...more
Carl
Sep 16, 2007 Carl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of Medieval Romance and the Volsung tradition
I suppose I'm biased by ON lit and saga style, but I just didn't get all that into this version of the Volsung material-- I think I just am not a Romance kind of guy (much as I like to think that I am romantic) and prefer the less flowery Norse material. Not that Volsunga saga is any better-- I may even rate that worse, as it is painfully obvious that the person responsible for that saga, whether scribe or otherwise, was patching together so many different variants of the material that he could ...more
Rob
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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