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The romantic poems of 12th-century French poet Chretien de Troyes were of immense influence across Europe - widely imitated, translated, and adapted. Giving rise to a tradition of story-telling that continues to this day, the poems established the shape of the nascent Arthurian legend. This poem was the first to introduce Lancelot as an important figure in the King Arthur legend. "Lancelot" tells of the adulterous relationship between the knight and his mistress, Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. Thematically this poem differs from Chretien's other romances - Lancelot and Guinevere's love is a serious crime against their king, Lancelot casts aside his knightly ideals and reputation for the sake of his beloved, and Arthur is endowed with a weaker personality. Chretien de Troyes is one of the unsung heroes of world literature in general and Arthurian legend in particular. In Perceval he introduced the Grail, a fundamental symbol that fascinated other medieval writers, who expanded on it until the Grail became the defining object of the entire literature. And in Lancelot, Chretien created a story of love and betrayal that achieved almost equal importance with the Grail legend. If you're interested in medieval literature, particularly knightly tales and anything concerned with Arthurian legend, Lancelot is in indispensable read. You won't be disappointed.
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