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The Complete Story of the Grail

The Complete Story of the Grail: Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval and its continuations

Translated by Nigel Bryant
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 640
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  • Book Info
    The Complete Story of the Grail
    Book Description:

    The mysterious and haunting Grail makes its first appearance in literature in Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval at the end of the twelfth century. But Chrétien never finished his poem, leaving an unresolved story and an incomplete picture of the Grail. It was, however, far too attractive an idea to leave. Not only did it inspire quite separate works; his own unfinished poem was continued and finally completed by no fewer than four other writers. The Complete Story of the Grail is the first ever translation of the whole of the rich and compelling body of tales contained in Chrétien's poem and its four Continuations, which are finally attracting the scholarly attention they deserve. Besides Chrétien's original text, there are the anonymous First Continuation (translated here in its fullest version), the Second Continuation attributed to Wauchier de Denain, and the intriguing Third and Fourth Continuations - probably written simultaneously, with no knowledge of each other's work - by Manessier and Gerbert de Montreuil. Two other poets were drawn to create preludes explaining the background to Chrétien's story, and translated here also are their works: The Elucidation Prologue and Bliocadran. Only in this, The Story of the Grail's complete form, can the reader appreciate the narrative skill and invention of the medieval poets and their surprising responses to Chrétien's theme - not least their crucial focus on the knight as a crusader. Equally, Chrétien's original poem was almost always copied in conjunction with one or more of the Continuations, so this translation represents how most medieval readers would have encountered it. Nigel Bryant's previous translations from Medieval French include Perlesvaus - the High Book of the Grail, Robert de Boron's trilogy Merlin and the Grail, the Medieval Romance of Alexander, The True Chronicles of Jean le Bel/I> and Perceforest.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-475-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-lii)

    Chrétien de Troyes ‘began the story of Perceval till death overtook him and prevented him completing it’: so we are told by Gerbert.¹ Unfinished at his death – suspended almost in mid-sentence – Chrétien’s last Arthurian romance,Perceval: the Story of the Grail, was evidently seen as too good and too intriguing to leave; not only did its tantalising theme inspire quite separate works, but his own incomplete poem was taken up, expanded and finally brought to a conclusion in four continuations.

    This,The Complete Story of the Grail, is a translation of Chrétien’s romance and all four of those...

  4. Chrétien de Troyes: Perceval
    (pp. 1-78)

    He little reaps who little sows, and anyone wishing for a worthwhile harvest spreads his seed in such a place that God repays a hundredfold; for on worthless ground good seed will parch and fail.

    Chrétien now sows the seed of a romance that he begins, and sows it in so good a place that he is bound to reap reward: his work is for the worthiest man in the empire of Rome – Count Philip of Flanders,² who is of even greater worth than Alexander. Alexander is deemed to have been so good, but I shall prove that the...

  5. The First Continuation
    (pp. 79-236)

    ‘Dear sister!’ she said. ‘Why are you in such a state? So upset? Tell me!’

    ‘Oh, lady! I’ve just seen a boy come clattering through the doors on an irongrey horse, and before he’d even dismounted the king collapsed in a swoon among his men! Then I saw countless lords do likewise – they couldn’t bear to see his grief!’

    When the queen heard that the king had faintedshepassed out as well – and she can hardly be blamed for that. Then ladies and damsels came thronging and started wailing like you’ve never heard!

    Meanwhile, back in the...

  6. The Second Continuation
    (pp. 237-338)

    But I’m going to leave them now; from this point you’re going to hear about the bold knight who went searching through many realms for the court that housed the bleeding lance. But he suffered so much toil and hardship before he succeeded in finding it that I couldn’t possibly tell it all – he roamed very far and very wide: I’m turning now to Perceval.

    Perceval, so the story says, had lost his memory to such a degree that he’d quite forgotten God. April and May passed by five times – that’s five whole years – without him setting...

  7. Gerbert’s Continuation
    (pp. 339-476)

    as he spoke with the Fisher King, but he acutely felt himself a sinner, being unfit to know the truth about the grail. But with all due courtesy – and eagerness – he begged the king to tell him, if it was no trouble, where the grail he’d seen was being carried and who was served from it, and why the lance bled. The king’s reply was instant:

    ‘After dinner, my friend, you’ll hear things that will delight your heart, but I’ll say nothing about the grail or the lance, whose secrets you can’t yet know. Your service to the...

  8. The Third Continuation
    (pp. 477-556)

    after what had befallen him: I’m sure I’ve never heard of joy to compare. The king called to him, saying:

    ‘Eat, good sir, and may God who endured His suffering and death grant you honour and forgive your sins.’

    Perceval sat down and ate beside the king, and with great pleasure: I shan’t describe the meal in detail, but no duke or king or count was ever so well served. But although he’d deserved to be fêted so, he stayed with his head bowed. What should I say? At perfect leisure they had all the food and wine they wished...

  9. Appendix 1: The Elucidation Prologue
    (pp. 557-561)
  10. Appendix 2: Bliocadran
    (pp. 562-568)
  11. Appendix 3: Independent conclusion to the Second Continuation in the Bern manuscript (Burgerbibliothek 113)
    (pp. 569-570)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 571-572)
  13. Index
    (pp. 573-580)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 581-584)