Historical Reprints History Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine

Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine

Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine
Catalog # SKU1244
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Lewis Spence
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Hero Tales
Legends of the Rhine

Lewis Spence

It is, of course, no easy task to infuse a spirit of originality into matter which has already achieved such a measure of celebrity as have these wild and wondrous tales of Rhineland. But it is hoped that the treatment to which these stories have been subjected is not without a novelty of its own. One circumstance may be alluded to as characteristic of the manner of their treatment in this work. In most English books on Rhine legend the tales themselves are presented in a form so brief, succinct, and uninspiring as to rob them entirely of that mysterious glamour lacking which they become mere material by which to add to and illustrate the guide-book. The absence of the romantic spirit in most English and American compilations dealing with the Rhine legends is noteworthy, and in writing this book the author's intention has been to supply this striking defect by retaining as much of the atmosphere of mystery so dear to the German heart as will convey to the English-speaking reader a true conception of the spirit of German legend.


The historical development, folklore, poetry, and art of the Rhine-country have been dealt with in a special introductory chapter. The history of the Rhine basin is a complicated and uneven one, chiefly consisting in the rapid and perplexing rise and fall of dynasties and the alternate confiscation of one or both banks of the devoted stream to the empires of France or Germany. But the evolution of a reasoned narrative has been attempted from this chaotic material, and, so far as the author is aware, it is the only one existing in English.

The folklore and romance elements in Rhine legend have been carefully examined, and the best poetic material upon the storied river has been critically collected and reviewed. To those who may one day visit the Rhine it is hoped that the volume may afford a suitable introduction to a fascinating field of travel, while to such as have already viewed its glories it may serve to renew old associations and awaken cherished memories of a river without peer or parallel in its wealth of story, its boundless mystery, and the hold which it has exercised upon all who have lingered by the hero-trodden paths that wind among its mysterious promontories and song-haunted strands.

There are many rivers whose celebrity is of much greater antiquity than that of the Rhine. The Nile and the Ganges are intimately associated with the early history of civilization and the mysterious beginnings of wisdom; the Tiber is eloquent of that vanished Empire which was the first to carry the torch of advancement into the dark places of barbarian Europe; the name of the Jordan is sacred to thousands as that first heard in infancy and linked with lives and memories divine. But, universal as is the fame of these rivers, none of them has awakened in the breasts of the dwellers on their banks such a fervent devotion, such intense enthusiasm, or such a powerful patriotic appeal as has the Rhine, at once the river, the frontier, and the palladium of the German folk.

The Magic of the Rhine

But the appeal is wider, for the Rhine is peculiarly the home of a legendary mysticism almost unique. Those whose lives are spent in their creation and interpretation know that song and legend have a particular affinity for water. Hogg, the friend of Shelley, was wont to tell how the bright eyes of his comrade would dilate at the sight of even a puddle by the roadside. Has water a hypnotic attraction for certain minds? Be that as it may, there has crystallized round the great waterways of the world a traditionary lore which preserves the thought and feeling of the past, and retains many a circumstance of wonder and marvel from olden epochs which the modern world could ill have spared. Varied and valuable as are the traditional tales of other streams, none possess that colour of intensity and mystery, that spell of ancient profundity which belong to the legends of the Rhine. In perusing these we feel our very souls plunged in darkness as that of the carven gloom of some Gothic cathedral or the Cimmerian depths of some ancient forest unpierced by sun-shafts.

It is the Teutonic mystery which has us in its grip, a thing as readily recognizable as the Celtic glamour or the Egyptian gloom - a thing of the shadows of eld, stern, ancient, of a ponderous fantasy, instinct with the spirit of nature, of dwarfs, elves, kobolds, erlkings, the wraiths and shades of forest and flood, of mountain and mere, of castled height and swift whirlpool, the denizens of the deep valleys and mines, the bergs and heaths of this great province of romance, this rich satrapy of Faëry.

350+pages - 8 x 5 inches SoftCover