German literature

German authors
  • Angelus Silesius
  • Heinrich Böll
  • Bertolt Brecht
  • Karl Georg Büchner
  • Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Günter Grass
  • Brothers Grimm
  • Hans von Grimmelshausen
  • Peter Handke
  • Gerhart Hauptmann
  • Heinrich Heine
  • Heinrich der Glïchezäre
  • Johann Gottfried von Herder
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
  • Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Uwe Johnson
  • Siegfried Lenz
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
  • Thomas Mann
  • Robert Musil
  • Novalis
  • Jean Paul Richter
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
  • Friedrich von Schiller
  • Arthur Schnitzler
  • Georg Trakl
  • Frank Wedekind
  • Christa Wolf

Heinrich der Glïchezäre

TheGerman poet of the High Middle Ages wrote the narrative poem Reinhart Fuchs, (Reinald the Fox), the oldest German animal epic that is known about, supposedly written around 1180. This epic is based on a French poem, which forms a part of the longer Roman of Renart, but which is the oldest of all adaptations written of this romance that have made it to current times.

The poem tells the story of a fox as a third-rate impostor generally outsmarted by smaller animals, continuing along the lines of French romance, however, all this changes: Reinald plays dirty tricks on most animals - especially on Isengrin the wolf - although he escapes punishment by caring for the sick lion. Towards the end he poisons his benefactor the lion and the poem ends off by reflecting on success gained by means of deception and falseness, while honesty goes unrewarded.

The story is told in a very direct way, with little ambiguity. Compared to its French predecessor the German version adds parts and summarizes others, besides changing the order of the events that take place and adding occasional satirical twists, which shows that this work involves a whole lot more than a mere translation.

This poem by der Glichezare is the only animal epic of High German literature; its well-known later versions were written in Low German. Goethe based his famous Reineke Fuchs on one of these.