A Discourse for the Holy Grail in Old French Romance

A Discourse for the Holy Grail in Old French Romance

Ben Ramm





Why should a supposedly Biblical relic lay down its literary roots in medieval French literature?
The Holy Grail made its first literary appearance in the work of the twelfth-century French poet, Chrétien de Troyes, and continues to fascinate authors and audiences alike. This study, supported by a theoretical framework based on the psychoanalytic works of Jacques Lacan and the cultural theory of Slavoj Zizek, aims to strip the legend of much of the mythological and folkloric association that it has acquired over the centuries, arguing that the Grail should be read as a symptom of disruption and obscurity rather than fulfilment and revelation.
Focusing on two thirteenth-century Arthurian prose romances, La Queste del Saint Graal and Perlesvaus, and drawing extensively on the wider field of Old French Grail literature including the works of Chrétien and Robert de Boron, the book examines the personal, social and textual effects produced by encounters with the Grail in order to suggest that the Grail itself is instrumental not only in creating but also in disturbing, the discursive, psychic and cultural bonds that are represented in this complex and captivating literary tradition.

BEN RAMM is Research Fellow in French, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge.

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January 2007
192 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843841098
Format: Hardback
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Table of Contents

This Is Not The One: Identity, Abjection and méconnaissance in the Perlesvaus
Falling Out With God: The Discursive Inconsistency of La Queste del Saint Graal
Remissio Peccatorum: Re-Locating the Sins of the Grail Hero
Dead to the World: Dreaming of Life and Death on the Quest of the Holy Grail
Conclusion: `Si aviot son tens trespassé': The Final Sacrifice of the Grail Hero?


A study that is bound to provoke lively discussion. SPECULUM
Offers a challenging combination of lucid portrayal of medieval intellectual thought and modern theoretical frameworks. MLR
This study is well informed by historical and linguistic analysis [and] will certainly be valued by many scholars. ARTHURIANA
A fresh reading of medieval Grail romances [that] provides us with a new way of thinking about this particular body of literature. H-FRANCE REVIEW

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