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The Holy Grail [Secure eReader]
eBook by Giles Morgan

eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion/General Nonfiction
eBook Description: The Holy Grail is a subject that fascinates and intrigues. Through its various guises as magic cauldron, cornucopia, horn of plenty and chalice cup it has remained at the centre of popular culture from antiquity right up to the present day. An object of marvel and mystery it inhabits a place in mythology that has its roots in historical facts. The Grail has been a major inspiration and catalyst for literature and the arts in Western Culture. From Celtic mythology to the flowering of the medieval romances it has in many ways fulfilled its mythical role as a nurturing and regenerative vessel by providing such a rich and seemingly perpetual source of interest to writers and artists. Charting the emergence of the story of the Grail offers a revealing insight into the cultural shift from Celtic paganism to the emergence and domination of Christianity in Western Europe. The influence of Eastern mysticism emerges in the Grail romances as a result of the medieval crusades with its clash of cultures and subsequent cross-pollination of ideas. The Grail has come to symbolise the ultimate achievement in the modern mind and it became an object of fascination for the psychologist Carl Jung and the poet TS Eliot. Wagner, William Blake and the Pre-Raphaelites are just some of the artists to have fallen under its enduring spell.

eBook Publisher: Pocket Essentials/Pocket Essentials
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2006

For all its iconic properties there remains something fundamentally elusive about the subject of the Holy Grail. An enigma wrapped within a mystery, it seems at times to move out of reach when approached by the quester, the visionary or simply the curious. As immediately recognisable as the figures of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, with whom it has come to be identified, it nonetheless confounds expectation and presumption on closer analysis. The roots of a Grail tradition can be found deep in ancient Western history but can also be found to contain elements of Eastern mysticism. It has in turn been an object of reverence, devotion, yearning and a powerful tool for political and religious propaganda. It can be seen to possess a mirror-like quality as it reflects the people and belief systems that have incorporated it into their worldview. The complexity of its origins is matched by its enduring appeal as a metaphor for quest, struggle, ultimate achievement and sometimes painfully, ultimate failure. Unpicking the strands of its development is a telling account of the dreams and ambitions of humanity, its triumphs, obsessions and darkest cruelties. But the Grail does not merely belong to the past as a redundant artefact of antiquity; its tradition is alive and evolving in the modern world. The French poet Chrétien de Troyes from Champagne was instrumental in crystallising the story of the Grail as we know it today. Working between around 1170 to 1190 he produced a series of romances which drew heavily on the British Arthurian tales. The immense popularity of King Arthur in the medieval period is borne out by the fact that no less a figure than Richard the Lionheart himself christened his own sword Excalibur. Whether this might be construed as what we would call today an attempt at ?spin? or reflected an ardent belief in the values which Arthur seemed to enshrine, it is difficult to gauge. Nonetheless it indicates clearly that they were powerful stories and myths that would have been known at all levels of society. De Troyes introduced the symbol of the Grail in his final tale Conte del Graal or ?story of the grail?. It introduces the idea of a physical and spiritual quest to the court of King Arthur. A Welsh youth called Perceval undertakes a series of adventures in his quest to become a Knight of Arthur?s court, in one of which he meets a mysterious Fisher King and encounters the Grail at his castle. The Fisher King has been wounded or crippled and makes a gift of a sword to Perceval. At this point the Grail Procession enters the castle. The procession is made up of a young man bearing a ?bleeding? lance, a young woman carrying a shining Grail made of precious materials and a maiden with a carving dish.Through the asking of a ritual question the Grail has the power to heal the king and his kingdom, the ?wasteland?, which has been directly affected by his injury. Perceval fails to ask the question and, after he later realises his failure, he devotes the rest of his life to finding the Grail. This also precipitates later quests by other Knights.

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