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The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief

af Richard Barber

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217294,531 (3.29)3
The elusive image of the Holy Grail has haunted the Western imagination for eight centuries. It represents the ideal of an unattainable yet infinitely desirable goal, the possibility of perfection. Initially conceived in literature, it became a Christian icon which has been re-created in a multitude of forms over time even though the Grail has no specific material attributes or true religious significance. Richard Barber traces the history of the legends surrounding the Holy Grail, beginning with Chretien de Troyes's great romances of the twelfth century and the medieval Church's religious version of the secular ideal. He pursues the myths through Victorian obsessions and enthusiasms to the popular bestsellers of the late twentieth century that have embraced its mysteries. Crisscrossing the borders of fiction and spirituality, the quest for the Holy Grail has long attracted writers, artists, and admirers of the esoteric. It has been a recurrent theme in tales of imagination and belief which have laid claim to the highest religious and secular ideals and experiences. From Lancelot to Parsifal, chivalric romances to Wagner's Ring, T. S. Eliot to Monty Python, the Grail has fascinated and lured the Western imagination from beyond the reach of the ordinary world.… (mere)
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This is not as rousing or exiting a history as I'd hoped for given what I thought I knew about the Holy Grail from the third Indiana Jones movie and popular culture in general. But I learned a lot and it certainly educated me as to the true history of the Grail (if you can define as "true history" the story of an imaginary object invented by an author who never even described what the object actually was or what it looked like). If you have any interest in the Grail, this is your book. I am very glad I stumbled across this book and I recommend it. ( )
  tnilsson | Jan 3, 2014 |
P.M. Matarasso, translator of THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL, Penguin, 2005, writes this about Richard Barber's incredibly erudite romp through Grail history:
"The book which serves as the best introduction and most reliable guide to the Grail myth in literature and literary consciousness from the twelfth century to the present day is Richard Barber's THE HOLY GRAIL: IMAGINATION AND BELIEF, Penguin, London, 2004. After giving full weight to the spectrum of medieval texts, it follows the Grail as symbol through to the wilder shores of New Age fantasy, covering a vast terrain with authority and grace. The thirty-page bibliography is up to date and comprehensive." (30)

From Barber's Introduction:
"The Grail is a mysterious and haunting image, which crosses the borders of fiction and spirituality, and which, for eight centuries, has been a recurrent ideal in
Western literature. What follows is an attempt to trace what we know about the Grail: it is, in all its forms, a construct of the creative imagination, but one which lays claim to the highest of religious ideals and experience. Even when it has been neglected for centuries, it has reappeared to appeal with renewed vigour to artists and writers; and from its first shape as a Christian symbol it has been recreated in a multitude of different forms.
"Such a topic exerts an extraordinary attraction for lovers of historical conundrums and enthusiasts for the esoteric and mysterious, particularly because we cannot give an answer to the question 'What is the Holy Grail?' The very first writer to mention it, who probably invented the idea, makes his story hinge on a similar question - 'What is the Grail for?' - and because he never provided the answer for his own riddle, the question continues to be asked. The initially mysterious and undefined 'Grail' had extraordinary repercussions: in a brief time span half a dozen major writers tried their hands at either completing the original stories or creating new ones, and in the process virtually invented a new art form, the prose romance, which many centuries later became the modern novel." (pg 1)
Flere brugere har rapporteret denne anmeldelse som misbrug af betingelserne for brug. Det er derfor fjernet (vis).
  Mary_Overton | Jul 24, 2009 |
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The elusive image of the Holy Grail has haunted the Western imagination for eight centuries. It represents the ideal of an unattainable yet infinitely desirable goal, the possibility of perfection. Initially conceived in literature, it became a Christian icon which has been re-created in a multitude of forms over time even though the Grail has no specific material attributes or true religious significance. Richard Barber traces the history of the legends surrounding the Holy Grail, beginning with Chretien de Troyes's great romances of the twelfth century and the medieval Church's religious version of the secular ideal. He pursues the myths through Victorian obsessions and enthusiasms to the popular bestsellers of the late twentieth century that have embraced its mysteries. Crisscrossing the borders of fiction and spirituality, the quest for the Holy Grail has long attracted writers, artists, and admirers of the esoteric. It has been a recurrent theme in tales of imagination and belief which have laid claim to the highest religious and secular ideals and experiences. From Lancelot to Parsifal, chivalric romances to Wagner's Ring, T. S. Eliot to Monty Python, the Grail has fascinated and lured the Western imagination from beyond the reach of the ordinary world.

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