Thomas, Neil E.

Celtic and Germanic Themes in European Literature
1994 0-7734-9420-0
These essays cover a broad historical sweep from Indo-European origins to the present. Essays include: Weaving-Related Symbolism in Early European Literature; Heinrich von Morungen and the Fairy-Mistress Theme; Second Sight in the Poetry of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff; Cernunnos Arisen: The Celtic Element in Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns (with special reference to the way Hill and other English poets such as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney have looked back to Celtic mythology as a belief system which gives more scope to natural forces than the Judaeo-Christian tradition); 'Mader er Mannz Gaman': The Theme of Friendship in Old Norse and Old English Wisdom Verse; Cultural Origin and the Presentation of an English Past: How Celtic a Figure is King Arthur in 19th Century English Literature?; The Southey Circle and Scandinavian Mythology and Literature; German Influences in The Mill on the Floss; and The Nibelungenlied and the Third Reich (on the ideological appropriations of the ancient Germanic legacy by the National Socialists). At all times the communal goal has been to view modern problems in an historical perspective which includes a consideration of that racial stereotyping which has sometimes marred our European civilization.

Tristan in the Underworld a Study of Gottfried Von Strassburg's Tristan Together with the Tristran of Thomas
1991 0-7734-9712-9
Offers a fresh interpretation of Gottfried von Strassburg's `classic' rendition of the Tristan and Isolde legend. Argues that the German work has too often been read in isolation from its main source of inspiration, the Tristran of the French poet Thomas, and he therefore adopts a comparative approach to the German and French texts, drawing in the versions of Gottfried's German continuators when applicable. Pursues the interdisciplinary approach further by analysing the place of the Continental texts within a wider European context and suggests thematic links between the insular, Celtic origins of the Tristan legend and its later, continental flowering. The findings of recent archaeological and folkloric studies are subsumed into his study where they possess literary relevance. He finds that the Thomas/Gottfried branch of the legend has little to do with an uncritical glorification of `courtly love' as that term has been commonly understood. Rather, the tension arising from within the amorous triangle of Tristan,Isolde, and Marke is finally resolved on terms favourable to the collective and the adultery is not finally permitted to injure the fabric of courtly civilization which Tintagel symbolises. Gottfried von Strassburg emerges less as a critic of the chivalric order than as a staunch defender of the feudal status quo.