Page:Journal of American Folklore vol. 12.djvu/207

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The Legend of the Holy Grail. 195

elevation of the heroine to the rank of wife, under the symbolic name of Condwiramurs. Misinterpretation plays a considerable part ; as already remarked, errors in the understanding of pronouns cause the maimed relation whom Perceval was bound to relieve to be con- verted from a cousin to an uncle, while a like error causes the youth to be represented as learning his name from his cousin, instead of communicating it to her. In these cases it is evident that the writer has reflected on the French text ; and in the biography, with an exception presently to be noted, there is no alteration of importance not capable of such explanation.

In spite of this obvious relation, the German poet tells a different story : in order to defend himself against the charge of erroneous translation, he affirms that he has derived his version of the tale, not from Crestien, but from a Provencal minstrel, a certain Kiot, com- posing in French. While in Anjou, the latter had obtained his information from an Arabic book written before the Christian era by a certain Flegetanis, who on his part had come to a knowledge of history in virtue of his astrological knowledge. It appears quite unnecessary to take such statement as serious, or as anything more than one of the inaccurate pretences regarding the sources of their narratives usually employed by mediaeval authors.

If, however, in the biographical story, Wolfram has in general followed the trouvere, the case is quite different in regard to the portion of the poem relating to the Grail. It has been shown that in the work of Crestien the dish occupies a subordinate and indeed accidental position, while in the later French romances it becomes the centre of the action. Now in the poem of Wolfram we find a series of representations which correspond to these later compo- sitions.

(1.) In the Parzival, as in the French prose romances, the Grail is made the symbol of a spiritual kingdom intended for the hero of the story. (2.) It is defined as the essence of all that is desirable, as that which grants the fulfilment of human wishes ; corresponding is the definition of Robert de Boron. (3.) It is kept in a temple attached to the palace of Anfortas, the maimed relative whom the hero is to relieve ; just so, in the Queste, its place is in a chapel belonging to the palace of the Fisher King. (4,) In this temple, apparently, it remains on the altar as the centre of a daily service ; such is the description in the poem of Robert, where, as above set forth, it answers to the eucharistic chalice. (5.) It magically sup- plies the household with food ; so in the later French romancers, but not in Crestien. (6.) Each banqueter receives such fare as he may desire : an approach to this conception appears in the Queste, where the Grail is said to supply all that is desirable ; but in the French

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