EISBN: 9781101487808 CONTENTS Introduction A Note on the Translations Select Bibliography Erec and Enide Cligés The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot) The Knight with the Lion (Yvain) The Story of the Grail (Perceval) Appendix: The Story of the Grail Continuations Glossary of Medieval Terms Notes INTRODUCTION WRITING in the second half of the twelfth century, Chrétien de Troyes was the inventor of Arthurian literature as we know it.
6698–763), on which four fairies had skilfully embroidered portrayals of the four disciplines of the quadrivium: Geometry, Arithmetic, Music and Astronomy. His depiction of the great hall and Grail procession in The Story of the Grail is filled with specific details, which are richly suggestive and create an aura of mystery and wonder. In his descriptions, as in much of what he writes, Chrétien tantalizes us with details that are precise yet mysterious in their juxtapositions. He refuses to explain, and in that refusal lies much of his interest for us today.
In The Knight of the Cart, Lancelot seems to substitute a religion of love for the traditional Christian ethic, even going so far as to genuflect upon leaving Guinevere’s bedchamber. Yet nowhere is there any direct condemnation of his behaviour, either by the characters or the narrator. Realists see in Lancelot the epitome of the courtly lover. For them, Marie de Champagne was a leading proponent of the doctrine of fin’amors, which was practised extensively at her court. To illustrate and further this concept, she commissioned Andreas Capellanus to draw up the rules for love in his De arte honeste amnandi and her favourite poet, Chrétien, to compose a romance whose central theme was to be that of the perfect courtly-love relationship.