The Conte du Graal Cycle

January 2012
4 black and white illustrations
290 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843842859
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT004150, LIT011000

The Conte du Graal Cycle

Chrétien de Troyes's Perceval, the Continuations, and French Arthurian Romance

Thomas Hinton

A new study of the continuations to Chrétien's Conte du Graal shows their crucial influence on the development of Arthurian literature.
Chrétien de Troyes's late twelfth-century Conte du Graal has inspired writers and scholars from the moment of its composition to the present day. The challenge represented by its unfinished state was quickly taken up, and over the next fifty years the romance was supplemented by a number of continuations and prologues, which eventually came to dwarf Chrétien's text.
In one of the first studies to treat the Conte du Graal and its continuations as a unified work, Thomas Hinton considers the whole corpus as a narrative cycle. Through a combination of close textual readings and manuscript analysis, the author argues that the unity of the narrative depends on a balanced tension between centripetal and centrifugal dynamics. He traces how the authors, scribes and illuminators of the cycle worked to produce coherence, even as they contended with potentially disruptive forces: multiple authorship, differences of intention, and changes in the relation between text, audience and book. Finally, he tackles the long-held orthodoxy that places the Perceval Continuations on the margins of literary history. Widening the scope of enquiry to consider the corpus's influence on thirteenth-century verse romances, this study re-situates the Conte du Graal cycle as a vital element in the evolution of Arthurian literature.

Thomas Hinton is Junior Research Fellow in Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford.

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Table of Contents

Narrative Aesthetic and Cyclic Formation
Manuscripts, Memory and Textual Transmission
Authorship, Kinship and the Ethics of Continuation
Rereading the Evolution of Arthurian Verse Romance
Appendix 1: Narrative Summaries
Appendix 2: Lengths and Dates of Texts
Appendix 3: Manuscripts of the Conte du Graal Cycle
Appendix 4: Full Contents of Conte du Graal Cycle Manuscripts
Appendix 5: Arthurian Verse Romances: Dates and Manuscripts
Appendix 6: Contents of Arthurian Verse Romance Manuscripts


Hinton's notes and explanations of earlier critical views, whether standard references or newer treatments, are cogent and thorough, providing the new student of this literature with direction and the experienced scholar with helpful reminders. ARTHURIANA

A substantial and wide-ranging book. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW,

A truly well-written and executed study. [Hinton's] argument is compelling and persuasive. [...] When it comes to approach, execution, and overall argument, Hinton is to be commended for his sensitive study of these texts; it sheds not just new, but also important, light on the corpus. MEDIUM AEVUM

Scholars of Old French can only rejoice in the renewal of critical interest in the Continuations of Chrétien's Perceval, of which Thomas Hinton's book forms an indispensable part. H-FRANCE REVIEW

[A]n excellent book. [...] gives a deep understanding of how stories and history work together in a tangled world. BIBLIOBUFFET.COM

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