Das Neidhardtspiel


Das Neidhardtspiel
(The Play of Sir Neidhardt)
   The earliest manuscript of the anonymous Neidhardtspiel dates from about 1350. Thought to be the among the oldest surviving medieval farces, it was discovered in the St. Paul monastery in Austrian Carinthia. Its ostensible use was for a springtime festival. In its 58 lines, the knight Neidhardt and a noblewoman wager that if he can find the season's first violets, she will accept his poem. He proceeds to find said flowers, places his cap over them, and returns to her. In his absence, peasants find the cap, uproot the flowers, and leave a "repulsive substance" (i.e., fecal matter) under the cap. Neidhardt returns with the lady to present her with his discovery—to which she is justifiably outraged, as the peasants enjoy themselves. Hans Sachs revised and somewhat cleansed the play for public presentation in Nuremberg during the Shrovetide season. In his version the "repulsive substance" (ein überaus ekelhafter Gegenstand) became a "human product" (menschliches Produkt).

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.


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