Sources of Malorys Grail quest


        French Queste de/ Sant Graal, part of 13e Vulgate cycle (1220s-1230s),

is the source for most of his grail tale. He actually reduces the

theological intrusions and allegorical and typological explanations

even though it seems that there's a hermit behind every tree, because

(it can be argued) his goal is different from the French: that text

contrasts earthly and heavenly chivalry In order to reject the former,

while Malory tries to find a place for it, reconciling historical and

penitential action


        Connected to the Queste is the Estoire del Sant Graal, the first part

of the Vulgate cycle plot but possibly the last to be written (c. 1240?),

which tells the story of Joseph of Arimathea, his trip to England,

conversion of Mordrains/Evelake, making of the shield, etc.



o   Joseph's importance in England peaks in the 15e; proposed as

founder of Glastonbury as early as 1250; works his way into

monastic histories early, chronicles later on. Really caught on

in late 14e-early 15e, as the conciliar importance of national

churches grew, and Joseph as founder of the English church

looked to be earlier than St. Denis of France (d. 63CE)

Text Box: Lancelot rebuked (La queste del Saint Graal; from Yale, Beinecke Library MS 229)

o   Estoire is possibly a Cistercian text, which means it may have a

certain agenda; founded in 1098 to critique the laxness of the

Benedictines (black monks), the Cistercians were known as white

monks and advocated a strict "originalist'' interpretation of the

rule of St. Benedict; note the color symbolism, then, of black and

white In Lancelot's ill-considered decision to join the black side,

and the black bulls of Gawain's vision.