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The Virgin and the Grail: Origins of a Legend

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Overview

Some fifty years before Chrétien de Troyes wrote what is probably the first and certainly the most influential story of the Holy Grail, images of the Virgin Mary with a simple but radiant bowl (called a “grail” in local dialect) appeared in churches in the Spanish Pyrenees. In this fascinating book, Joseph Goering explores the links between these sacred images and the origins of one of the West’s most enduring legends.
While tracing the early history of the grail, Goering looks back to the Pyrenean religious paintings and argues that they were the original inspiration of the grail legend. He explains how storytellers in northern France could have learned of these paintings and how the enigmatic “grail” in the hands of the Virgin came to form the centerpiece of a story about a knight in King Arthur’s court. Part of the allure of the grail, Goering argues, was that neither Chrétien nor his audience knew exactly what it represented or why it was so important. And out of the attempts to answer those questions the literature of the Holy Grail was born.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“To search for the Holy Grail has always been to search for its meaning. Goering, in a highly original and historically satisfying work, invites the reader to join his fascinating quest for the origins, place, and meaning of the mysterious Grail.”—Paul Dutton, author of Charlemagne’s Mustache
Alexander Murray
"Goering’s quest for the origins of the grail legend leads us through a landscape of romance, theology, art, and dynastic history, to track down the first ’Perceval’ in Christendom’s least-frequented corner. A ’must’ for addicts."—Alexander Murray, University College, Oxford


Paul Dutton
“To search for the Holy Grail has always been to search for its meaning. Goering, in a highly original and historically satisfying work, invites the reader to join his fascinating quest for the origins, place, and meaning of the mysterious Grail.”—Paul Dutton, author of Charlemagne’s Mustache
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300106619
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 5/10/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 212
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Goering is professor in the department of history, University of Toronto.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I From romance to history
Ch. 1 Chretien de Troyes : Perceval or the Conte du Graal 4
Ch. 2 Wolfram von Eschenbach : Parzival 16
Ch. 3 Robert de Boron : Joseph d'Arimathie (La grant estoire dou graal) 40
Ch. 4 Helinand of Froidmont 58
Pt. II Before romance : the Virgin and the Grail in the Pyrenees
Ch. 5 The bishop of Roda/Barbastre and the churches of Taull 71
Ch. 6 The master of St. Clement 89
Ch. 7 The Virgin and the Grail in the Pyrenees 112
Pt. III The historian's quest
Ch. 8 Perceval and the Grail 143
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