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The Legend of the Grail

The Legend of the Grail

Compiled and translated by Nigel Bryant
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 268
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt9qdkcw
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  • Book Info
    The Legend of the Grail
    Book Description:

    The quest for the Holy Grail is one of the most important elements in the story of King Arthur. Yet even among the many interested in the stories of the Round Table, very few have read at first hand the medieval masterpieces which over a period of some forty years, in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, together became the foundation of the legend of the Grail. These romances, full of bewildering contradictions and composed by a number of different writers with very different preoccupations, dazzle with the sheer wealth of their conflicting imaginative detail. In this new compilation, the enthralling material becomes truly accessible through his interweaving of the principal motifs and narrative strands of all the original Grail romances to construct a single, consistent version of the Grail story, while clearly tracing the development of its enigmatic and potent theme. All the mystery and drama of the Arthurian world are embodied in the extraordinary adventures of Perceval, Gawain, Lancelot and Galahad in their pursuit of the Grail. Told here as a unified, coherent narrative, the Grail legend reasserts its relevance as one of the great works of imaginative literature of the middle ages. NIGEL BRYANT's previous Arthurian books include The High Book of the Grail (Perlesvaus), Chretien de Troyes' Perceval and its Continuations, and Robert de Boron's Merlin and the Grail.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-260-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The quest for the holy grail is the single most important element in the story of King Arthur. Even to the many who have only the haziest knowledge – or no knowledge at all – of things Arthurian, the Grail itself is an emblem, a metaphor for an ultimately challenging but supremely desirable goal: it has, indeed, become something of a journalistic cliché. Yet very few people, even those interested in the wonderful stories of the Round Table, have ever read at first hand the medieval masterpieces which, over a period of some forty years in the late twelfth and early thirteenth...

  4. Joseph of Arimathea
    (pp. 5-23)

    Hear the story of that holy vessel which is called the Grail, in which the precious blood of the Saviour was gathered on the day when He was crucified to redeem mankind from Hell. Such was His purpose in coming to this world, being born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem.

    At the time when Our Lord was upon the Earth, most of the land of Judaea was answerable to Rome, and the governor’s name was Pilate. This Pilate had in his service a soldier named Joseph of Arimathea, who followed Christ to many places and loved him deeply in...

  5. The Welsh Boy
    (pp. 24-40)

    Now begins the holy tale about a good knight who was born of Joseph’s line. A good knight he was indeed, for he was chaste and pure in body, bold of heart and strong, and in him there was no wickedness. But his face did not suggest such courage, and he had no way with words; indeed, through just a few words which he failed to say, such great misfortunes befell Britain that all the isles and all the lands fell into great sorrow; but he then restored them to happiness by the valour of his fine chivalry. And a...

  6. The Fisher King
    (pp. 41-71)

    The new knight took his leave of his host, most anxious now to return to his mother and to find her alive and well. He made his way into the lonely forest, for he was more at home there than in the open country, knowing the ways of the woods. He rode on until he caught sight of a castle: it was strong and impressive, but outside its walls there was nothing but sea and river and wasteland. He hurried on until he neared the gate; but before he could reach it he had to cross a bridge so weak...

  7. Sir Gawain’s Quest Begins
    (pp. 72-115)

    King arthur had had letters sealed and sent to every land summoning lords and knights to attend a court at Pennevoiseuse by the Welsh sea at the feast of Saint John. The knights of the Round Table, who were scattered throughout the lands and forests, heard the news and were filled with joy, and returned to the court with all speed. Sir Gawain and Lancelot did not come on the day decreed, but the other knights of the court made their arrival, every one.

    Saint John’s Day came. The weather was fine and clear and the hall was high and...

  8. Perceval’s Recovery
    (pp. 116-123)

    Meanwhile the son of the widowed lady was still staying at the hermitage of his uncle King Pelles, and because of his distress from the suffering he had endured since his failure at the house of the Fisher King, he had made confession to his uncle and told him of his lineage and that his name was Perceval. But the good hermit, the good king, had named him Par-lui-fet, because he was a self-made knight. But one day, when the hermit had gone out to work in the forest, the Good Knight Perceval felt stronger and happier than usual, and...

  9. Lancelot’s Quest
    (pp. 124-133)

    Meanwhile sir gawain had been journeying on, and one morning, between nine o’clock and noon, he came riding up a hill and saw a massive oak tree, thick with leaves, giving plenty of shade. He could see a shield hung on the oak, and beside it a good, straight lance. He hurried on towards the tree until he noticed a small, dark palfrey beside it; he was astonished by this, for it did not seem right to him: arms and a palfrey – usually a lady’s mount – did not go together. Had it been a charger he would have supposed that...

  10. The Castle of Marvels
    (pp. 134-167)

    Meanwhile sir gawain had been journeying on, and one morning, between nine o’clock and noon, he came riding up a hill and saw a massive oak tree, thick with leaves, giving plenty of shade. He could see a shield hung on the oak, and beside it a good, straight lance. He hurried on towards the tree until he noticed a small, dark palfrey beside it; he was astonished by this, for it did not seem right to him: arms and a palfrey – usually a lady’s mount – did not go together. Had it been a charger he would have supposed that...

  11. The Broken Sword
    (pp. 168-205)

    Meanwhile perceval, having left his uncle’s hermitage, had journeyed long through a great forest until one day, about noon, he emerged into a beautiful country, richly farmed on every side, filled with wheat and barley like the lands of the abbeys of Citeaux or Clairvaux. Perceval wondered to what country he had come, for it was at least two years since he had seen a land so abundantly endowed with all good things, so plentiful and populous. Then he caught sight of a splendid castle, of which all the walls and battlements were whiter than new-fallen snow. It had five...

  12. The Conquest of the Castles
    (pp. 206-234)

    So perceval set out once more, and soon found himself upon a path which was little trodden. He followed it through the forest until, at the edge of a glade, he saw a magnificent wooden cross. He could see two hermits at the Cross; one was making a great commotion, and was clutching a fistful of twigs with which he kept beating the Cross, as furiously as if he meant to knock it down; and he went on beating it as long as his breath lasted. But the other hermit was on his knees with clasped hands, worshipping the Cross...

  13. Galahad
    (pp. 235-256)

    Perceval rode out into open country but met no-one; then he passed back into the forest and rode on, his head bowed in thought. Suddenly a knight came thundering through the trees, lance lowered, as fast as his horse could go; and he struck Perceval as he passed and sent him crashing to the ground and seized his horse by the reins. Perceval leaped up swiftly and drew his sword, and began to race after the knight to recover his mount, distraught and furious at being felled. He gave chase right along a valley, not slowing for a moment; but...

  14. Sources
    (pp. 257-258)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-262)