Holy Grail in Literature and Legend

Grail, Holy

Holy Grail, a feature of medieval legend and literature. It appears variously as a chalice, a cup, or a dish and sometimes as a stone or a caldron into which a bleeding lance drips. It was identified by Christians as the chalice of the Last Supper brought to England by St. Joseph of Arimathea. Miraculous in its powers, it could provide food and healing. However, it would be revealed only to a pure knight, and the Grail Quest appears in different stories. In Arthurian legend the purest knight is variously Parsifal or Galahad. The Grail is one of the most difficult problems of Arthurian legend, introducing as it does features of Christian story, Celtic myth, and ancient fertility cults.

See R. S. Loomis, The Grail (1963); E. Jung and M.-L. von Franz, The Grail Legend (tr. 1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

A Companion to the Lancelot-Grail Cycle
Carol Dover.
D.S. Brewer, 2003
The Book of Lancelot: The Middle Dutch Lancelot Compilation and the Medieval Tradition of Narrative Cycles
Bart Besamusca; Thea Summerfield.
D.S. Brewer, 2003
Love, War, and the Grail
Helen Nicholson.
Brill, 2001
Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe
Richard W. Kaeuper.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "The Quest of the Holy Grail" begins on p. 253
Visio Pacis, Holy City and Grail: An Attempt at An Inner History of the Grail Legend
Helen Adolf.
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1960
The Holy Grail: From Romance Motif to Modern Genre
Wood, Juliette.
Folklore, Vol. 111, No. 2, October 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Psychology of a King: Arthur in the Lancelot-Graal Cycle
Ingram, Amy L.
Philological Quarterly, Vol. 82, No. 4, Fall 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Arthurian Legend in the Literatures of the Spanish Peninsula
William J. Entwistle.
Phaeton Press, 1975
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "The Arthurian Novels in Castile and Portugal: The 'Holy Grail,' 'Merlin,' 'Quest'"
The Unholy Grail: A Social Reading of Chraetien de Troyes's Conte Du Graal
Brigitte Cazelles.
Stanford University, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The World According to the Grail"
Unspeakable Horror, Ineffable Bliss: Riddles and Marvels in the Prose Tristan
Huot, Sylvia.
Medium Aevum, Vol. 71, No. 1, Spring 2002
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