Chrétien de Troyes was a late 12th century French poet and trouvère known for his work on Arthurian subjects, and for originating the character Lancelot. This work represents some of the best-regarded of medieval literature. His use of structure, particularly in Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel. Chrétien may have become known as Christian of Troyes in contrast to the Jewish Rashi, also of Troyes. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes, or at least intimately connected with it, and between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps as herald-at-arms (as Gaston Paris speculated). One source of information on Chrétien de Troyes' novels is the book by M. Altieri entitled, Les Romans de Chrétien de Troyes: Leur perspective proverbiale et gnomique (1976, A G Nizet, Paris).
Yvain: The Knight of the Lionby Chretien de Troyes
Taking the legends surrounding King Arthur and weaving in new psychological elements of personal desire and courtly manner, Chretien de Troyes fashioned a new form of medieval Romance. The Knight of the Cart is the first telling of the adulterous relationship between Lancelot and Arthur's Queen Guinevere, and in The Knight with the Lion Yvain neglects his bride in his quest for greater glory. Erec and Enide explores a knight's conflict between love and honor, Cliges exalts the possibility of pure love outside marriage, while the haunting The Story of the Grail chronicles the legendary quest. Rich in symbolism, these evocative tales combine closely observed detail with fantastic adventure to create a compelling world that profoundly influenced Malory, and are the basis of the Arthurian legends we know today.
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