restricted access Blickwendungen. Virtuelle Räume und Wahrnehmungserfahrungen in höfischen Erzählungen um 1200 by Von Carsten Morsch (review)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by
Blickwendungen. Virtuelle Räume und Wahrnehmungserfahrungen in höfischen Erzählungen um 1200.
Von Carsten Morsch. Bielefeld: Erich Schmidt, 2011. 303Seiten. €49,80.

Carsten Morsch divides his investigation Blickwendungen: Virtuelle Räume und Wahrnehmungserfahrungen in höfischen Erzählungen um 1200 into three overarching categories. Within each of these rubrics several epic works, or individual characters drawn from the same, exemplify Morsch’s theses on perception, recipient participation, and a resultant poetics. To support his claims, Morsch draws on substantial examples from Herzog Ernst, Hartmann’s Armer Heinrich and Iwein, Wolfram’s Parzival, Lamprecht’s Alexanderlied, and Mauititus von Craûn; additional, briefer passages chosen from Konrad von Würzburg’s Partenopier und Meliur and from Der Pleier’s Meleranz extend Morsch’s treatise on perspectives into the latter decades of the thirteenth century. Surrounding this nucleus of analyses and speculations, Morsch posits a theoretical frame in which he elaborates first on a poetics of visuality as well as “Wendungen des Blicks” (25), and, in his conclusions, on accompanying limitations, or “Wahrnehmungsgrenzen” (271).

In the prelude to his textual analyses, Morsch opens this investigation with specific assumptions dealing with “literarische Raumerfahrung” (11). These considerations will prove to be vital to his subsequent chapter on medieval listening and/or reading as means of textual reception. Here Morsch draws extensively on Alf Mentzer’s Die Blindheit der Texte with a paraphrase of “die Verbindung von Erzählakt und Wahrnehmungserlebnis als Spannungsverhältnis, in dem der sprachlich generierte Raum und der der Wahrnehmung nie völlig ineinander aufgehen” (12). It is precisely this tension which enables Morsch to extrapolate further positions or means of perception in reference to literary texts as communicated to audiences at court ca. 1200. Since these texts demonstrate an “Oszillieren literarischer Kommunikation zwischen Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit, zwischen kollektiver Performanz im Vortrag und [End Page 696] nicht mehr durch den gemeinschaftlichen Vollzug gesicherter, individueller Lektüre,” the ground is laid for what Morsch terms “Visualisierungsstrategien” (20–21). A lexical abundance of words and idiomatic markers denoting observation or means of seeing enable the recipient to become engaged with the communicated text.

Morsch’s first example of this conjoinment, as it were, is illustrated in the historic reception of Herzog Ernst by means of a citation in the chronologically later Helmbrecht, indicating an instance of reading and/or visualizing the earlier text. Such narrative strategies are argued as conscious efforts to enhance the visibility (“Sichtbarkeit”) of that which is represented in the text. At the same time, Morsch establishes that “[s]ie inszenieren eine kinästhetische Wahrnehmbarkeit des Dargebotenen—Hörer und Leser werden im Vollzug der Lektüre als aktiv Wahrnehmende in Bewegung versetzt” (19). The concept of the active recipient places the listener/reader here both within and without the individual text. With these assumptions set forth, Morsch proceeds to examine the reception of and participation in courtly narratives by both types of audience. Having therewith postulated a focus on “manifold” or “double viewing” (27), additional theoretical considerations are broached with the intention of developing their significance in the following analytical chapters. Several of the terms, e.g., the titular “Blickwendung,” remain purposely broad in both definition and subsequent application. Although this tendency allows the author an assured mobility of approach, the current reader is confronted with the possibility of multiple levels of interpretive use. It would be especially helpful if such recurring terms were given more concrete definition(s) than included in either part of this investigation.

In his substantial sub-sections on the Herzog Ernst B, and its medieval as well as modern reception, Morsch examines the prologue and narrative in terms of both a participatory experience and a journey. The text is directed to a courtly audience of listeners and readers which, at the same time, participates by perceiving a reflection of itself in the experience of the communicated story. This “Lektüre als teilnehmende Beobachtung” (39ff.) retains for Herzog Ernst B at first a decidedly external progression. Political stability is upset when Ernst is placed beyond the protection of imperial favor. His reconciliation with Emperor Otto is established only after a lengthy journey fraught with visually exciting adventures. Ernst’s...