GUDRUN by Alma Johanna Koenig


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The story of Gudrun, as Althea Bell explains in a brief, intelligent afterword, comes from a 13th-century heroic romance, written in Middle High German, that is thought to be a companion to the Nibelungenlied. Koenig's German-language prose version was published 50 years ago and now Bell has translated it to English. The story begins with the kidnapping of beautiful Hilde, the king of Ireland's daughter and a willing victim, by Hettel, king of the Hegelings and overlord of 30 countries along the North Sea coasts. Gudrun, their daughter, is as beautiful as her mother, and though she selects Herwig, King of Zealand, to be her husband, she and all her women are kidnapped away by Hartmut, prince of Normandy, before the marriage can take place. The Hegelings pursue, but the others escape after a bloody battle; and the proud, unyielding Gudrun endures seven years of servitude to Hartmut's mother before Gudrun's brother and other young countrymen grow up enough to replace the men lost in the first battle and come to her rescue. Koenig's (and Bell's) telling is direct and strong; her characters stand out clearly; and she neither dresses up the narrative with medievalisms nor tries to make a novel of it. Wherever such book-length traditional narratives are still read, this has a place.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1979
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard