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Conte del Graal: Crestien.

- Perceval is brought up by his mother in the forest to which she has retired. Purposely kept in ignorance of all that relates to chivalry and warfare, he one day meets and questions a band of passing knights. Neither the warnings nor the entreaties of his mother avail to prevent his following them to Arthur's court. Thence, after adventures which foreshadow his future eminence in knighthood, he rides forth in search of further adventures. He is welcomed and trained in all manner of knightly exercises by Gonemans, who, amid other recommendations, bids him avoid over-readiness in speaking and asking questions. Leaving Gonemans, he succours an oppressed damsel, Blanche-fleur (Gonemans' niece), with whom he stays awhile. Again he roves forth, chances upon two fishermen, and is directed for a night's lodging to a castle hard by. Entering, he is led into a great hall wherein is a couch and upon it an old man. A squire enters bearing a sword upon which is written that it will never break save in sore peril. The host gives it to Perceval, "to whom it was adjudged and destined." Another squire enters bearing a lance from which blood drips. Perceval would have asked concerning this wonder, but minds him of the counsel not to speak or inquire too much. Two more squires enter, each with a two-branched cancllestick, and a damsel, in her hand a "graal"; this shines and puts out the light of the candles as the sun does that of the stars. A second damsel follows holding a silver plate. At supper the "graal" is again brought, but Perceval does not venture to ask wherefor it is used. On the morrow, awakening, he finds the castle deserted, his horse saddled, and the drawbridge down. He rides forth, and the drawbridge closes so suddenly as well-nigh to crush horse and rider. In the forest he meets a damsel lamenting over a dead knight. She tells him his last night's host was the fisherman who had directed him to the castle ; wounded by a spear thrust through both thighs his only solace was in fishing, whence he was called the Fisher King. She asks if Perceval had seen the bleeding lance, the " graal," the silver dish-had he asked their meaning? No ! then what was his name ? Perceval le Gallois! Nay, rather Perceval the Caitiff, for had he asked concerning what he saw, the good king would have been made whole again. She is Perceval's cousin. After many adventures Perceval returns to Arthur's court. The following day a damsel, more hideous than could be pictured outside hell, appears, and curses Perceval for omitting to ask concerning lance and grail; had he done so the king would have been healed of his wound and ruled his land in peace; now maidens will be put to shame, orphans and widows made, many knights slain. She further tells of adventures to be achieved at the öastle Orgellous, and of Montesclaire where a damsel is held captive. Gauvain (Sir Gawain) will forth to the imprisoned damsel, Gifl^s to the Castle Orgellous, Perceval to learn concerning Grail and lance. Nothing is said of Giflès' adventures, but those of Gauvain are related at great length. Of Perceval we learn that after wandering five years without thinking of God, he meets on Good Friday a band of penitents, is rebuked for riding armed on such a day, and is bidden to confess to a hermit hard by, who turns out to be his uncle: Perceval has sinned in leaving his mother and thereby causing her death, and for this reason could not ask concerning lance and grail. The story returns to Gauvain, in the midst of whose adventures it breaks off.

Crestien tells us, then, of a precious object, the "graal," preserved in Company with other talismans, a bleeding lance, a broken sword, in a mysterious castle ; of a hero who visits this castle ; who should have asked concerning its wonders ; refrains from so doing, and thereby draws down upon his head bitter reproaches and long wanderings. Had he finished his poem he would, doubtless, have told us esactly what the "graal " was, why it and the lance were precious, and the nature of the relation between the hero and the wounded fisher king. As it is, we must turn for this information elsewhere, and we cannot be sure that what we find corresponds to Crestien's plan.

Quelle: The Legends of The Holy Grail, Alfred Nutt, London 1902, S. 6ff