THE object of the present Series of Popular Studies is as much to assist those who are anxious to pursue a special line of study as to give an accurate summary of any particular subject to those who do not wish for more than a general knowledge of it. In the present instance the second intention is almost impossible to realise in view of the enormous mass and great complexity of the subject-matter. All the more, therefore, do I trust that I may be able to induce many of my readers to take up the study of the Grail cycle. There is only one way of setting .about this, and that is to read the romances themselves Luckily, several of the most important are easily accessible to the English reader. The PEREDUR, the most archaic form of the Quest story, may be read in my edition of the Mabinogion; Wolfram's PARZIVAL, the finest example of the Quest story as transformed by Christian influence, in Miss Weston's translation (2 vols. 10s.,6d.) ; the PERCEVAL LE GALLOIS, the transitional bridge between the knightly hero of Crestien-Guiot and the ascetic hero of the later legend, in Dr. Evans' exquisite translation (The High History of the Holy Grail, 2 vols.4s.); and the QUÊTE DU ST. GRAAL, the final outcome of Puritan asceticism, in Malory's Morte D'Arthur (best read in Dr. Sommer's faithful reprint of Caxton's text, 2 vols. 7s. 6d., in which it occupies Books 13-18). When these four versions have been mastered, the main lines of development will be clear, and attention can be given to the remaining works of the cycle. Of these, the GRAND ST.GRAAL and the DIDOT PERCEVAL are accessible in Hucher's Le Saint-Graal ou le Joseph d'Arimathie, 3 vols., 1875-78 (£1 10s.). A fifteenth-century metrical English adaptation of the GBAND ST. GBAAL has likewise been edited by Dr. Furnivall : Seynt Graal; or, the Sank Ryal, 2 vols., 1861-63 (printed for the Roxburghe Club), but this is only accessible to frequenters of large libraries ; moreover, the reader who has a fair knowledge of modern French will, after a few days' work, find the thirteenth-century prose of the French original easier to understand than the fifteenth-century verse of the English adaptation. Borron's poem is printed in Furnivall's Seynt Graal.
SIR PERCIVALLE is accessible in Halliwell's edition : The Thornton Romances, 1884, printed for the Camden Society. Unfortunately the chief work of the cycle, the CONTE DEL GRAAL, is practically inaccessible, only 100 copies having been printed of the only edition, that of M. Potvin, 6 vols., Mons, 1866-71. Professor Baist is engaged upon a new edition. Readers who can consult one of the few copies extant in England, and who have a fair knowledge of modern French, will not find Crestien very difficult, less so than is Chaucer to the average well-educated Englishman.
As regards the literature of the subject, there are only two works to which the reader can be referred for full and accurate summaries of the romances : Birch-Hirschfeld, Die Sage vom Gral, 1877, and my own Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, 1888. This latter, the only work accessible to readers unacquainted with German, is now out of print. The only other work dealing with the cycle as a whole, Prof. B. Heinzel's Die französischen Gralromane, a monument of erudition and ingenuity, is useless to all but advanced student, the "senior wranglers" of the study. Dr. E. Wechssler has done excellent work in determining the relation to each other of the existing prose romances, and in tracing their development (Die verschiedenen Redaktionen der Graal-Lancelot Cyklus,1895), and his Sage v. heil. Gral, 1898, which contains a useful bibliography, and many acute and valuable suggestions might be recommended if it did not present the author's hypothetical view of the development of the legend (a view entirely untenable in parts) in such a way as to lead the unknowing reader to imagine that it set forth the evidence of the texts.
Other works will be mentioned as occasion offers.
CBESTIEN'S DATE. (Page 6.)
WOLFBAM'S PARZIVAL. (Page 11.)
CELTIC ELEMENTS IN THE GRAIL LEGEND. (Pages 55-59.)
(Pages 62, 63.)
Quelle: The Legends of The Holy Grail, Alfred Nutt, London 1902, S. 75ff