Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/213

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Reviews. 191

Apply these considerations to the Grail problem. In every Grail romance without exception the " British localisation," regarded by Professor Wesselofsky as " comparatively late," is a factor of more or less importance ; in most of the romances, and notably in what, obviously, are the oldest existing, it is the chief factor. Surely a sound method compels us to start from this fact, to seek the origin and development of the cycle within the British " sphere of in- fluence," remembering, however, how thanks, firstly to the Norman Conquest and later to the Angevin lordship of Britain, that sphere of influence comprised most of existing France. Professor Wesselofsky, like all other opponents of British origin, needs must recognise that the legend, allegedly non-British at first, did become localised in Britain, did become Britonised. Why and how ? This is what they entirely neglect to explain, what indeed they seem to hold unworthy explanation.

What then is my position ? I distinguish two main elements in the Grail cycle: the one originally non-Christian, solely British in origin ; the other Christian, and so primarily non-British but, secondarily, British in its object : which is, to relate the Conver- sion of Britain. The fusion of these two elements, originally effected within the British area, produced the existing Grail legends which spread throughout the British " sphere of influence," and thence into the neighbouring literatures of Germany, the Scandi- navian North, and the Southern Romanic area. That the Christian element is associated with Joseph of Arimathea fully explains the presence of many Eastern legendary features drawn from the rich apocryphal literature of which he is the hero. This primary source of Oriental elements is supplemented by the conditions amid which the Grail romances assumed their present shape; the cycle as it stands, is a product of that period of Crusading energy during which the social life and the literature of Western Christendom were profoundly modified. I not only recognised, I emphatically proclaimed this fact in my earliest written utterance on the subject nearly twenty years ago. But it is only of late that I have become conscious of its full import in connection with what may be called the Temple element in the Grail romances.

Thus the presence of Oriental traits and features in the Grail romances does not surprise me. I am ready to examine Professor Wesselofky's parallels with an unbiassed mind, and to admit that many subsidiary features in the extant texts are only explicable by