Chrétien de Troyes and the Dawn of Arthurian Romance

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About the Book

During the late 12th century, the Arthurian legends first took their form in the imagination of French-speaking romancers. Foremost among these poets was the great Chrétien de Troyes, credited with incorporating into the Arthurian tradition the quest for the Holy Grail and the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. This critical text explores the French roots of the legends and the source material of the individual characters, with special attention to the creative role played by de Troyes, whose contribution to the saga continues to shape and inform the modern imagination.

About the Author(s)

William Farina has written books on Arthurian legend, early Christianity, the American Civil War, Shakespeare and baseball. He lives in Evanston, Illinois, and works as a real estate consultant for the federal government.

Bibliographic Details

William Farina
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 255
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4866-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5794-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction      1

PART I. LITERARY THEMES: THE POET

1. Everyone Knows Lancelot Was French      11

2. Arabic Roots      19

3. From Wales to Brittany and Beyond      28

4. Medieval Feminism      36

5. Cligès, the Anti-Tristan      44

6. A Melting Pot of Ideas      52

7. The Desecration of Aquitaine      60

8. An Arthurian Geography Lesson      67

9. Geoffrey of Monmouth Proves Reading Is Believing      76

PART II. HISTORICAL THEMES: THE KNIGHT

10. The Birth of Chivalry      87

11. Erec, Enide, and the Pitfalls of Happiness      95

12. The Achievement of Malory      103

13. Restless Second Sons      111

14. Legacy of the Crusader Kingdoms      118

15. Normans Gone Native      126

16. The Fragile and Hard-Won Sanity of Yvain      134

17. A Dreadful Foreboding      143

PART III. RELIGIOUS THEMES: THE CLERGYMAN

18. Good Guys, Bad Guys, and No In-Betweens      155

19. The Problem with Merlin      164

20. Triumph of the Gothic      171

21. Perceval Gets Religion in Spite of Himself      179

22. The Grail and the Lance      187

23. Ecclesia Versus Synagoga      195

24. Chrétien Who?      203

Conclusion      211

Timeline of the High Middle Ages, 1000–1300      217

Chapter Notes      219

Bibliography      237

Index      241