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Perceval: The Story of the Grail

Chrétien de Troyes
Translated from the Old French by Burton Raffel
Afterword by Joseph J. Duggan
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    One of the most influential storytellers in Western literature, French poet Chrétien de Troyes helped to shape the ever-fascinating legend of King Arthur and the Round Table. Of Chrétien's five surviving romantic Arthurian poems, the last and longest isPerceval, an unfinished work that introduces the story of the Grail-a legend quickly adopted by other medieval writers and taken up by a continuing succession of authors. In Chrétien's romance, Perceval progresses from a naive boyhood in rural seclusion to a position of high respect as a knight at Arthur's court. With the help of two teachers-his mother and Gornemant of Goort-Perceval is ultimately able to reject the worldly adventures chosen by other knights and seek important moral and spiritual answers.Acclaimed for his sensitive and faithful translations of the poems of Chrétien, Burton Raffel completes the Arthurian series with this rendition ofPerceval. Raffel conveys to the modern English language reader all the delights of Chrétien's inventive storytelling, perceptive characterizations and vividly evoked emotions.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13322-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Translator’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
    Burton Raffel
  4. Perceval: The Story of the Grail
    (pp. 1-292)
    Chrétien de Troyes

    If you sow lightly, you reap

    Lightly. And a good crop

    Requires the kind of soil

    Where seeds sprout a hundredFold,

    for even good seed

    Dies in dried-up ground.

    What Chretien sows—the seeds

    He scatters—are the start of a story,

    And he plants his words in such

    Fine soil that he’s bound to do well,

    Because he’s telling his tale

    For the noblest man in the Holy

    Roman Empire, Philip

    Of Flanders—since despite the good things They say of Alexander,

    Count Philip is better, and I

    Can prove it, for Alexander

    Acquired all the evils

    And vices...

  5. Afterword
    (pp. 293-308)
    Joseph J. Duggan

    Perceval: The Story of the Grail,a masterwork of world literature, was written under the patronage of Philip, count of Flanders and Alsace. This powerful noble Philip was the seneschal of France in 1180, during the reign of King Philip II; his niece, Isabelle of Hainaut, was married to the king, whom Philip of Flanders knighted in June of that year.

    Philip of Flanders participated in the Third Crusade, leaving France in September 1190 and dying at Acre in June the following year. The date of Chrétien de Troyes’s death is unknown, but he leftPercevalunfinished, and one of...

  6. Recommended for Further Reading
    (pp. 309-310)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-311)