Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Story of Parzival

The Bavarian knight and poet Wolfram von Eschenbach (c.1170 – 1220), author of Parzival, was not the first great artist to be attracted by the story. Chr├ętien de Troyes, author of the unfinished Perceval, le Conte du Graal (Perceval, the Story of the Grail), was also inspired by the tale. He dedicated the romance to his patron Philip, count of Flanders, and his account of the Arthurian hero has a stylistic and thematic connection with Peredur, one of the medieval Welsh prose tales collectively known as the Mabinogi.

Parzival illustrated manuscript

The true origin of Perzeval’s story is unknown, but the variety of its treatments shows how literary material reflected local circumstances within a cosmopolitan ambiance. Von Eschenbach’s poem, arguably the greatest of the German medieval epics, is infused by the knightly ethic with its portrayal for the need of compassionate love when searching for a healing wisdom. Parzival’s grief-stricken mother, Herzeloyde, has consciously brought him up to be ignorant of chivalric knighthood following the death in battle of the boy’s father Gahmuret.
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