Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/211

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REVIEWS.


Two Studies on the Grail Legend.

Zur Frage über die Heimath der Legende vom heiligen Gral (Archiv für slavische Philologie, vol. xxiii.). A. N. Wesselofsky.

Ueber den Ursprung der Grallegende. Ein Beitrag zur Christlichen Mythologie. Von W. Staerk. J. C. B. Mohr. Tubingen und Leipzig. 1903.

Professor Wesselofsky is an acknowledged master in fields of Oriental and semi-Oriental history and literature, unfamilar to or neglected by most Western students. His present investigations form a valuable supplement to Dr. P. Hagen's discussion of the Oriental element in the Grail romances. Personally, I have read them with pleasure and profit. Yet they seem to me to bear only upon secondary and comparatively unimportant factors in the Grail problem, and if I discuss them in some detail it is rather in view of what I regard as an unsound method of investigating romantic legend, than because I think Professor Wesselofsky has done much to elucidate the origin and early development of the Grail cycle. Briefly, he regards the Christian origin of the legend as undoubted, its localisation in Britain as comparatively late; and he finds the sources of the Grail romances in legends of the Christian-Jewish diaspora in Palestine, Syria, and /Ethiopia. The parallels he adduces illustrate chiefly Robert de Borron's Joseph d'Arimathie, and the early portion of the Grand St. Graal.

At the very outset he is compelled to make an admission of which the import seems to escape him. Syriac legends are postulated, and their direct transference into French is in some cases explicitly, in others implicitly, involved in his arguments. But versions presupposing a Greek intermediary are also used. Yet, as he admits, no single trace of the Grail legend in its