The German Volksbuch: A Critical History of a Late-Medieval Genre

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This study explains how the Volksbuch developed from the medieval courtly romance under the influence of complex sociological, economic, technological, and cultural factors during the 15th century and became an art form in its own right. The new genre was characterized by a wide range of styles, from the earthy plot and language of Till Eulenspiegel to the formal style and moralistic didacticism of the Magelone. The study goes on to examine the history of the genre's critical evaluation from the Romantic period to the present, providing a close-up survey of the history of German literary scholarship. It also discusses four major representatives of the genre: Thüring von Ringoltingen's Melusine, the anonymous Fortunatus, Till Eulenspiegel, and Historia von D. Johann Fausten. This book will be of interest not only to students and scholars of German, but also to those interested in the social, historical, and mental transition of Germany from the late Middle Ages to the modern age.

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