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The logic of the Grail on Old French and Middle English Arthurian romance

Baldon, Martha Claire 2017. The logic of the Grail on Old French and Middle English Arthurian romance. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Approaching Grail narratives as a distinct subgenre of medieval romance, this thesis compares five Old French and Middle English Grail texts: Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval (c.1190), the Didot-Perceval (c.1200), Perlesvaus (early thirteenth century), the Vulgate Cycle Queste del Saint Graal (c.1225) and Thomas Malory’s Tale of the Sankgreal (1469). Through detailed analysis of the ways these texts explore three primary areas of Christian experience – sight, space and time – this thesis illuminates both concepts shared across these Grail narratives, and characteristics that distinguish them from each other. The comparative analysis of this thesis shows how the Grail romances operate according to a distinct form of logic that furthers their interests in spiritual instruction. This thesis opens with an introduction to the five texts under consideration and an overview of previous scholarship on the Grail narratives. The introduction also discusses some of the conventional features of Arthurian romance and foregrounds the ways in which the Grail romances disrupt and distort these familiar expectations. Chapter One, ‘Hermeneutic Progression: Sight, Knowledge, and Perception’, explores the ways in which the Grail narratives utilise medieval optical theories to highlight hermeneutic contrasts between normative Arthurian aventures and Grail aventures. The knights’ failures in perception in the latter are marked by a geographical disorientation. Chapter Two, ‘Spatial Perception: The Topography of the Grail Quest’, argues that once the knights embark upon the quest of the Holy Grail, they enter a separate temporal framework in which their physical progression is dictated by their spiritual improvement. Chapter Three, ‘Temporal Transformations: Grail Time’, suggests that in the Grail narratives, concepts of time are transformed to allow readers and Grail knights to travel between the Arthurian present and the biblical past. It is through interpreting and understanding the relationship between past and present that the significance of the Grail aventures emerges. The conclusion to this thesis explores contemporary medieval ideas of demonstrative and dialectic argumentation to suggest that the Grail romances function as a visual form of demonstrative argumentation. This thesis argues that this logic distinguishes the Grail narratives from more secular Arthurian romances and enables both Grail knights and readers to develop their appreciation and understanding of the Grail miracles themselves.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Submission
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2018
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2020 03:18

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