It is a rather closely knit piece of work which must be read in its entirety if its logic is to be appreciated. The author advocates an entirely new conception of the story. Hitherto discussion has centered upon the questions whether the Venusberg myth and the Tannhäuser legend are independent or connected motifs and whether they are of Italian or German origin. Professor Barto takes a wider view of the question. Finding no necessary link between the two parts of the story as we now have it, he seeks an explanation further and finds his solution in the idea of a beautiful Teutonic paradise and of a divine personage who issued from it, later to return thither. In this way the myths or legends of the Grail, of the Swan Knight, of the Venus Mountain, and of Tannhäuser all become variants of the same theme. The idea of the grail-realm can be shown to have rapidly deteriorated into that of a sensual hollow-mountain paradise, and thus to have coalesced with the Venusberg. So, too, Lohengrin became Tannhäuser, sharing his fate in departing never to be seen or heard of again. In conclusion, the author finds etymological evidence for identifying the names of Tannhäuser and his predecessor Daniel with Wodan, thereby bringing the group into relationship with the myth of the Furious Host (die wilde Jagd). Professor Barto's stimulating suggestions, for which he attributes the credit in large part to his teacher, Dr. Goebel, are presented with sufficient plausibility to require serious examination. Quotations from the source-poems are given in English translation in the body of the text, the originals being confined to the notes. A valuable appendix brings together the various versions of the folk-song of Tannhäuser. The book will undoubtedly provoke much discussion.
-The Nation, Vol. 104