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A Dangerous Place to Be: Fearing City Life in Georg Wickram’s Von guten und bösen Nachbaurn (1556)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3064-212X
2017 (English)In: Tears, sighs and laughter: expressions of emotions in the Middle Ages / [ed] Per Förnegård, Erika Kihlman, Mia Åkestam, Gunnel Engwall, Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 2017, p. 138-152Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

 “You should know / that also other Portuguese men from Lisbon are in this city of Antwerp/ and not few of them / especially two shabby, evil lads / […]” (Von guten und bösen Nachbaurn, 1969: 143, trans. EWN). When the young Portuguese apprentice Lasarus comes to Antwerp to improve his skills as a craftsman he is immediately introduced to the evils of the city by a friend, thus quickly learning that the big city offers no safety and that people around him can be divided into “us” (good) and “them” (evil). The hero in Georg Wickram’s prose novel from 1556 does not seek knightly adventures on his travels but rather security and a quiet place where he can live together with the woman he loves. Lasarus wants to make a living as goldsmith in an urban setting but he is constantly threatened by malicious characters in the text. He fears for his life and is heartbroken at the same time, far away from home and his beloved Amelia who made him speechless of sorrow when he had to leave her for his travels to foreign cities.

 Hatred, crime and violence characterize life in the early modern city and Wickram’s protagonists have to proceed tactically, adjust to the dangers surrounding them, and to work hard to create a safe haven in large, dangerous cities like Antwerp and Venice. They rarely show strong emotions in public but suffer quietly, worry, and cry when alone without friends and family. Wickram’s text is one of the earliest prose novels in German language depicting city life and city dwellers and connecting the urban space with primarily dark sides of society. The chapter investigates the quickly growing early modern city as a place for criminal behavior, violence, fear and force as expressed in Wickram’s text. The aim is to show how the characters deal with situations of conflict and how they express and cope with their emotions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 2017. p. 138-152
Series
Konferenser / Kungl. Vitterhets historie och antikvitets akademien, ISSN 0348-1433 ; 92
Keyword [en]
Georg Wickram, early modern literature, prose novel
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154224ISBN: 978-91-7402-447-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154224DiVA, id: diva2:1191905
Available from: 2018-03-20 Created: 2018-03-20 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved

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