Studies on the legend of the Holy Grail

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STUDIES

ON THE

Legend of the Holy Grail

WITH ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE HYPOTHESIS

OF ITS

CELTIC ORIGIN.


BY

ALFRED NUTT.


"Welchem Volke das Märchen (von Parzival's Jugendgeschichte) angehörte, welches die schriftliche oder mündliche Ueberlieferung mit der Gralsage in Verbindung brachte, ist schwer zu bestimmen, doch würde dasjenige Volk den meisten Anspruch darauf haben, bei welchem sich dies Märchen ausserhalb jenes Zusammenhangs nachweisen liesse."—K. Simrock.

"The Celtic hero who in the twelfth century became Perceval le Chercheur du basin . . . in the end became possessed of that sacred basin le Saint Graal, and the holy lance which, though Christian in the story, are the same as the talismans which appear so often in Gaelic tales . . . the glittering weapon which destroys, and the sacred medicinal cup which cures."—J. F. Campbell.

"In all the Fenian stories mention is made of Fionn's healing cup . . . it is the same as the Holy Grail of course."—J. F. Campbell.


London:

DAVID NUTT, 270-71, STRAND.


1888.

 
 

Works by the same Author.


The Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula among the Celts.Folk-Lore Record, Vol. IV. 10s 6d.

"Interessante étude de mythographie comparée."—Revue Celtique.


Mabinogion Studies, I. The Mabinogi of Branwen, daughter of Llyr.Folk-Lore Record, Vol. V. 10s. 6d.

"Eingehendes und sehr beachtenswerthes Studium."—Prof. Ernst Windisch, in Ersch und Gruber.
"These careful and searching studies deserve to be honourably mentioned."—Mons. Heri Gaidoz, in the Academy.
 
 

The Folk-Lore Society

FOR COLLECTING AND PRINTING

RELICS OF POPULAR ANTIQUITIES, &c.

ESTABLISHED IN

THE YEAR MDCCCLXXVIII.

Publisher's design in Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties.png

Alter et Idem

PUBLICATIONS

OF

THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY.

1888.

XXIII.

List of Officers of the Society.

1887-1888.


PRESIDENT.

THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF STRAFFORD.

VICE-PRESIDENTS.

ANDREW LANG, M.A.

W. R. S. RALSTON, M.A.

EDWARD B. TYLOR, LL.D., F.R.S.

DIRECTOR.

G. L. GOMME, F.S.A., 1, Beverley Villas, Barnes Common, S.W.

COUNCIL.

THE HON. J. ABERCROMBY. G. LAURENCE GOMME, F.S.A.
A. MACHADO Y ALVAREZ. A. GRANGER HUTT, F.S.A.
THE EARL BEAUCHAMP, F.S.A. SIR JOHN LUBBOCK, Bt., F.R.S.
EDWARD BRABROOK, F.S.A. REV. DR. RICHARD MORRIS.
DR. G. B. BRINTON. ALFRED NUTT.
JAMES BRITTEN, F.L.S. EDWARD PEACOCK, F.S.A.
LOYS BRUEYRE. Z. D. PEDROSO.
MISS C. S. BURNE. PROFESSOR A. H. SAYCE, M.A.
EDWARD CLODD. CAPTAIN R. C. TEMPLE.
PROFESSOR D. COMPARETTI. HENRY B. WHEATLEY, F.S.A.

AUDITORS.

G. L. APPERSON.

JOHN TOLHURST, F.S.A.

LOCAL SECRETARIES.

Ireland: G. H. KINAHAN, R.I.A.

South Scotland: WILLIAM GEORGE BLACK, Esq.

North Scotland: REV. WALTER GREGOR.

India: CAPTAIN R. C. TEMPLE.

China: J. STEWART LOCKHART.

HONORARY SECRETARIES.

A. GRANGER HUTT, F.S.A., 8, Oxford Road, Kilburn, N.W.

J. J. FOSTER, 36, Alma Square, St. John's Wood, N.W.

 
 

HARRISON AND SONS,
PRINTERS IN ORDINARY TO HER MAJESTY,
ST. MARTIN'S LANE, LONDON.

 
 

DEDICATION.


To the Memory

OF

J. F. CAMPBELL

FROM WHOM

I FIRST LEARNT TO LOVE CELTIC TRADITION.

 
 

CONTENTS.


Description of the leading forms of the Romance: Conte del Graal—Joseph d'Arimathie—Didot-Perceval—Queste del Saint Graal—Grand Saint Graal-Parzival—Perceval le Gallois—Mabinogi of Peredur—Sir Perceval—Diu Crône—Information respecting date and authorship of these works in the MSS. page 1

Summaries—Conte du Graal: Psuedo-Chrestien, Chrestien, Gautier de Doulens, Manessier, Gerbert—Wolfram—Heinrich von dem Türlin—Didot-Perceval—Mabinogi of Peredur—Thornton MS. Sir Perceval—Queste del Saint Graal—Grand Saint Graal—Robert de Borron's poem, Joseph of Arimathea page 8

The legend formed of two portions: Early History of Grail, Quest—Two forms of each portion distinguished—Grouping of the various versions—Alternative hypotheses of development—Their bearing upon the alleged Celtic origin of the Grail—Closer examination of the various accounts of the Grail: The first use made of it and its first possessor; its solace of Joseph; its properties and the effect produced by it; its name; its arrival in England; the Grail-keeper and his relationship to the Promised Knight—Three different stages in the development of the Queste—The work and the qualification of the Promised Knight—Conclusions: Priority over Early History of Quest—Chronological arrangement of the versions page 65

SKETCH OF THE LITERATURE CONNECTED WITH THE GRAIL CYCLE.

Villemarqué—Halliwell—San Marte (A. Schulz)—Simrock—Rochat—Furnivall's reprint of the Grand St. Graal and of Borron—J. F. Campbell—Furnivall's Queste—Paulin Paris—Potvin's Conte du Graal—Bergmann—Skeat's Joseph of Arimathea—Hucher: Grail Celtic, date of Borron—Zarncke, Zur Geschichte der Gralsage; Grail belongs to Christian legend—Birch-Hirschfeld develops Zarncke's views : Grand St. Graal younger than Queste, both presuppose Chrestien and an earlier Queste, the Didot-Perceval, which forms integral part of Borron's trilogy; Mabinogi later than Chrestien; various members of the cycle dated—Martin combats Birch-Hirschfeld: Borron later than Chrestien, whose poem represents oldest stage of the romance, which has its roots in Celtic tradition—Hertz—Criticism of Birch-Hirschfeld page 97

Relationship of the Didot-Perceval to the Conte du Graal—The former not the source of the latter—Relationship of the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi—Instances in which the Mabinogi has copied Chrestien—Examples of its independence—The incident of the blood drops in the snow—Differences between the two works—The machinery of the Mabinogi and the traces of it in the Conte du Graal—The stag hunt—The Mabinogi and Manessier—The sources of the Conte du Graal and the relation of the various parts to a common original—Sir Perceval—Steinbach's theory—Objections to it—The counsels in the Conte du Graal—Wolfram and the Mabinogi—Absence of the Grail from the apparently oldest Celtic form page 127

The Lay of the Great Fool—Summary of the Prose Opening—The Aryan Expulsion and Return Formula—Comparison with the Mabinogi, Sir Perceval, and the Conte du Graal—Comparison with various Gaelic märchen, the Knight of the Red Shield, the Rider of Grianaig—Originality of the Highland tale—Comparison with the Fionn legend—Summary of the Lay of the Great Fool—Comparison with the stag hunt incident in the Conte du Graal and the Mabinogi—The folk-tale of the twin brethren—The fight against the witch who brings the dead to life in Gerbert and the similar incident in the folk-tale of the Knight of the Red Shield—Comparison with the original form of the Mabinogi—Originality of Gerbert page 152

The various forms of the visit to the Grail Castle in the romances—Conte du Graal: Chrestien; Gautier-Manessier; Gautier-Gerbert—Didot-Perceval—Mabinogi—Conte du Graal; Gawain's visit to the Grail Castle—Heinrich von dem Türlin—Conte du Graal: Perceval's visit to the Castle of Maidens—Inconsistency of these varying accounts; their testimony to stories of different nature and origin being embodied in the romances—Two main types: feud quest and unspelling quest—Reasons for the confusion of the two types—Evidence of the confusion in older Celtic literature—The Grail in Celtic literature: the gear of the Tuatha do Danann; the cauldron in the Ultonian cycle; the Mabinogi of Branwen; vessel of balsam and glaive of light in the contemporary folk-tale—The sword in Celtic literature: Tethra; Fionn; Manus—Parallels to the Bespelled Castle; the Brug of Oengus, the Brug of Lug, the Brug of Manannan Mac Lir, Bran's visit to the Island of Women, Cormac Mac Art, and the Fairy Branch; Diarmaid and the Daughter of King Under the Waves—Unspelling stories: The Three Soldiers; the waiting of Arthur; Arthur in Etna; the Kyffhäuser Legend, objections to Martin's views concerning it—Gawain's visit to the Magic Castle and Celtic parallels; The Son of Bad Counsel; Fionn in Giant Land; Fionn in the House of Cuana; Fionn and the Yellow Face—The Vanishing of the Bespelled Castle—Comparison with the Sleeping Beauty cycle—The "Haunted Castle" form and its influence on Heinrich's version—The Loathly Grail Messenger page 170

The Fisher King in the Conte du Graal, in the Queste, and in Borron and the Grand St. Graal—The accounts of latter complete each other—The Fish is the Salmon of Wisdom—Parallel with the Fionn Saga—The nature of the Unspelling Quest—The Mabinogi of Taliesin and its mythological affinities—Brons, Bran, Cernunnos—Perceval's silence: Conte du Graal explanation late; explanation from the Fionn Saga—Comparison of incident with geasa; nature of latter; references to it in Celtic folk-tales and in old Irish literature, Book of Rights, Diarmaid, Cuchulainn—Geasa and taboo page 207

Summing up of the elements of the older portion of the cycle—Parallelism with Celtic tradition—The Christian element in the cycle: the two forms of the Early History; Brons form older—Brons and Bran—The Bran conversion legend—The Joseph conversion legend, Joseph in apocryphal literature, the Evangelium Nicodemi—The Bran legend the starting point of the Christian transformation of the legend—Substitution of Joseph for Bran—Objection to this hypothesis—Hypothetical sketch of the growth of the legend page 215

The Moral and Spiritual import of the Grail-Legend universally recognised—Popularity of the Arthurian Romance—Reasons for that Popularity—Affinities of the Mediæval Eomances with early Celtic Literature; Importance of the Individual Hero; Knighthood; the rôle of Woman; the Celtic Fairy and the Mediaeval Lady; the Supernatural—M. Renan's views—The Quest in English Literature, Malory—The earliest form of the Legend, Chrestien, his continuators—The Queste and its Ideal—The Sex-Relations in the Middle Ages—Criticism of Mr. Furnivall's estimate of the moral import of the Queste—The Merits of the Queste—The Chastity Ideal in the later versions—Modern English Treatments: Tennyson, Hawker—Possible Source of the Chastity Ideal in Popular Tradition—The Perceval Quest in Wolfram; his Moral Conception; the Question; Parzival and Conduiramur—The Parzival Quest and Faust—Wagner's Parsifal—The Christian element in the Legend—Ethical Ideas in the folk-tale originals of the Grail Romances: the Great Fool; the Sleeping Beauty—Conclusion page 228

APPENDIX A.: The Relationship of Wolfram to Chrestienpage 261

APPENDIX B.: The Grand St. Graal Prologue and the Brandan Legend page 264

INDEX I. The Dramatis Personæ of the Legend page 266

INDEX II. page 275

 
 

ERRATA.

[The reader is kindly begged to mark in these corrections before using the book.]

Page 22,line 12, for Corbièrc read Corbière.
,, 25, line 37, insert Passion before Week.
,, 30, 7 lines from bottom, for Avallon read Avalon.
,, 85, line 24, for Percival read Perceval.
,, 86, line 12, for Percival read Perceval.
,, 90, 5 lines from bottom, for Pelleur read Pelleans.
,, 102, line 22 for seems read seem.
,, 120 line 3, for 1180 read 1189.
,, 124, line 29, for Bron read Brons.
,, 156, line 11, insert comma after specially.
,, 159, line 11, for Henessey read Hennessy.
,, 163 note, i.e, for Graal read Gaal.
,, 183, line 23, insert comma after more.
,, 188, line 5, for euphemerised read euhemerised.
,, 188, line 5, for invasion read invasions.
,, 188, line 17, for mystic read mythic.
,, 189, line 1,for LXXVII read LXXXII.
,, 197, note, for Carl the Great read Karl the Great.
,, 200, line 12, insert comma after plight; dele comma after love
,, 201, 1 line from bottom, insert late before mediaeval.
,, 204, note, for Percival read Perceval.
,, 217, line 23, for mystic read mythic.
 

 


This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.