The Nibelungenlied forms the framework for this recreation of the days of Siegfried's marriage to the Burgundian princess,...

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THE TWELVE PICTURES

The Nibelungenlied forms the framework for this recreation of the days of Siegfried's marriage to the Burgundian princess, Kriemhild -- and of the symbol of submission in conquest, as Brunhilde is forced to renounce her pagan faith and take Kriemhild's brother, King Gunter, as consort. And it ends with the tragic finale of the feat in Attila's Hunland, at the height of his power. Miss Simon, whose scholarship was evidenced so dramatically in The Golden Hand has explored the discrepancies in the legendary versions, and shapes her story to deal with the motives rather than the facts. And a sordid tale of manipulations, plot and counterplot, violence, betrayal, it is from start to finish. Siegfried's death and Branbilde's suicide on his tomb seems to high climax of the story, and- for this reader-the after events, as Kriemhild, convinced that she can bring Christianity to the pagans, marries Attila, finds her marriage a mockery, was anticlimactic. The holocaust of the Burgundian feast, the plot of Kriemhild's sworn knights to revenge Siegfried's murder that goes awry, Kriemhild's slaying of her arch enemy, Hagen, and killing of herself, wind up a story that has lived in Wagner's operas -- but that, I feel, has small claim to such extensive exploration as in The Twelve Pictures. While there is much of interest in the minutiae that embellishes the plot and provides the background, the plot itself does not recommend its violence and gore to the modern reader. Edith Simon's achievement in The Golden Hand was that she made a segment of England's social history come alive. It does not seem to me she has done that for the period chosen here.

Pub Date: May 20, 1955

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1955