Hunger has traditionally remained one of the worst misfortunes of the Medieval West. The fear of this disaster has generated among the peasants a lush variety of myths about abundant food. In the XIII century in the north of France, fairy tales appeared about the country of Kokan, where they paid for idleness and were punished for work. Later similar myths spread to England and Germany. Folklore legends about endless food dates back to the biblical image of manna from heaven, which God fed the Jews during their wanderings after the exodus from Egypt. In addition, one of the evangelical miracles of Jesus Christ is the feeding of thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread. The same miracles were attributed to various saints, legends about which were included in the collection “Golden Legend”.
Collect manna from heaven. Image: thephilosophersmail.com
The German word Schlaraffenland is first found in the poem of Heinrich Wittenweiler "The Ring" (beginning of the 15th century). The author even indicates the coordinates of the desired edge - somewhere between Prague and Vienna. There are sent the heroes of his comedy buffoon. The legend became truly famous and popular after the publication in 1494 of The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant, a satirical poem that flaunted the vices of medieval society. She had a lot of parodies and treatments that spread throughout Germany and covered all German dialects. Brant also mentions Narragonia, the land of fools. But the heroes of the poem never get to Schlaraffenland, because their ship is wrecked. The country of lazy people is often met in the swagas - the urban genre of a humorous story in verse or prose.
Nebylitsy about the land of plenty said that there are fritters growing on the trees, and besides the milk rivers there are also rivers of honey. There are references to Schlaraffenland in those works where this country is not explicitly mentioned. For example, the brothers Grimm in the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" children find an edible gingerbread house. In the “Ditmar Fairy Tale” from their own collection, fried chicken flies belly up. In Schlaraffenland, such a game itself falls into the mouth of the most notorious lazy and gluttony.
Fictional map of Schlaraffenland. Johann Baptist Gomann (1730). Image: arthistorybabes.com
Although some authors indicated the approximate coordinates of an imaginary country, it was common to think that Schlaraffenland was a parallel changeling world with an ideal social structure. That is why the gastronomic myth gained particular popularity during the peasant uprisings. Utopia is like an endless holiday, and this is like a medieval carnival.
The flowering of literature about the country of lazy people fell on the XVI - XVII centuries. In the New Age, the self-ironic Schlaraffenland gradually acquires the features of a dystopia, and the word itself becomes abusive. The authors of new works began to reinforce their narrative with morality about how commoners should not behave (to be lazy, to dream of equality and idleness). It was already ridiculing the naive tradition of the promised land. There is a desire to prove to the ignorant reader that abundance can be achieved only through hard and hard work.
"Country lazy" by Peter Bruegel. Image: dorohins.com
In painting, the country of lazy people is most often associated with the picture of the same name by the Dutchman Pieter Bruegel the Elder (written in 1567, now kept in the Munich Old Pinakothek). Most likely, the tale of Hans Sachs served as a basis for interpretation. It was possible to get to this country by breaking through the porridge in the mountain. The characters in the picture are a gnawed knight, a peasant, a soldier and a scholar. There is a version that Bruegel conceived his picture as a political satire. At that time, his compatriots, fighting for independence, fought with the Spaniards, and the country was tormented by devastation and famine. According to this interpretation, the roast goose symbolizes the passive nobility.
Silantyev O. Yu. The Legend of the Country of Slaraffia in German Literature
Le Goff J. Civilization of the Medieval West
Saks G. Country lazy
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Lead image: dorohins.com