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The Nibelungen Tradition: An Encyclopedia edited by Winder McConnell, Frank Gentry, Ulrich Mueller, Werner Wunderlich (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities: Routledge) brings together in one volume all of the literary and extra-literary references pertinent to the Nibelungen tradition. This monumental works is the intended as a standard reference guide to pre-literary and literary sources of the Nibelungen tales. From the reception of the Nibelungen theme in art, music, sculpture, film, and modern literature to its application in the twentieth century in such spheres as the military, politics, and propaganda. The Nibelungen Tradition also provides the reader with an analysis of all of the primary literary sources, thumbnail sketches of characters and places associated with the tradition, significant motifs and key concepts, the historical background, and the most important scholarship to date on the topic.

Editors’ introduction

The Nibelungen Tradition is the first comprehensive reference work on one of the major themes in Germanic and world literature, and is intended to provide the reader with an extensive overview of the Nibelungen tradition from its origins to the present. For in much the same fashion as another great medieval icon, Arthur, his knights, and the courtly ideals embodied in his tales, have survived the ages to inspire less chivalrous times, so, too, have Siegfried, the Germanic heroes, and the bold virtue of unswerving loyalty and death before dishonor which they incorporate endured the transition from the heroic to the present, decidedly "post‑heroic" age.

Departing from the practice that has prevailed in the series, we have not listed entries solely in alphabetical order but rather have divided them up into ten major categories:

1) Primary works in which the Nibelungen topic plays a significant role;

2) Names of all important persons and places

in the major literary works of the Middle Ages that contain elements of the Nibelungen theme;

3) Explanations of key words, motifs, themes, and objects related to the story of the Nibelungen;

4) Manuscript collections and literary/historical analogues;

5) Examination of major scholarly questions associated with the topic of the Nibelungen;

6) Literary reception of the Nibelungen theme in German;

7) Literary reception of the Nibelungen theme in languages other than German;

8) Music and composers associated with the Nibelungen theme;

9) Art and artists, film and filmmakers, sculpture and sculptors associated with the Nibelungen theme; and

10) Historians, clerics, politics, the military, propaganda, psychology, education, iconography, and geography.

Although we intended from the onset of the project to be as comprehensive as possible in our selection of entries, it might be argued that certain references are too indirect in nature to deserve inclusion‑the many personal names cited from the Volsunga saga or the pathreks saga, for example‑but a conscious decision was made by the editors to err, if err we did, on the side of generosity and inclusiveness with respect to the Scandinavian analogues. While this volume is clearly not intended as an all-encompassing reference work on all extant Germanic heroic epics, in those instances where primary works in Old Norse did incorporate elements of the Nibelungen tradition, we have taken the liberty of including many of the figures that constitute a vital part of the overall heroic scenery. We cannot, on the other hand, claim to have found every pertinent reference that should be included in a work of this nature.

While the bulk of entries in The Nibelungen Tradition are directly related to the Nibelungen theme, with references to the Nibelungenlied based on manuscript B, unless otherwise stated, the one obvious area that has not been considered in detail is Wagneriana. To be sure, Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen itself, along with all of its figures, has been included, but only the most standard scholarship has been cited in the bibliography, and no attempt has been made to treat systematically the corpus of works that constitute its literary reception.

There are no individual entries on Nibelungen scholars. The major trends in Nibelungen scholarship from its beginnings to the present have been summarized in Part V of the Encyclopedia.

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