Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian



10 thoughts on “Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth

  1. Nandakishore Varma Nandakishore Varma says:

    I first encountered the Knights of the Round Table in believe it or not a Walt Disney comic book It was about King Mickey and the Knights of the Round Table , a delightfully juvenile version of the great British legend But it piqued my interest and I started reading up on anything and everything connected with knights, as well as watching movies containing medieval themes I loved those guys, running into one another, lances at ready till wham one of them is unseated and thrown fro I first encountered the Knights of the Round Table in believe it or not a Walt Disney comic book It was about King Mickey and the Knights of the Round Table , a delightfully juvenile version of the great British legend But it piqued my interest and I started reading up on anything and everything connected with knights, as well as watching movies containing medieval themes I loved those guys, running into one another, lances at ready till wham one of them is unseated and thrown from the horse As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the idea of chivalry and Percival, Galahad, Lancelot, and all those parfit gentil knights became the idols of a hopelessly romantic youth.Joseph Campbell came into my life much later during my early twenties However, it was only later, as I heard his lectures in 2005 it was freely available on the Joseph Campbell Foundation in those days about the Grail Quest that I realised the mythical depth of these stories Ever since then, I have been on the lookout for adetailed analysis which this book provides It collects matter from those lectures, plus additional material, and lays out a fairly comprehensive review of the literature about the Grail Quest.The stories of King Arthur, most familiar to us, are presented by Thomas Malory in Le Morte d Arthur King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table But we have a large compendium of grail lore apart from that Wolfram von Eschenbach s Parzival, Gottfried von Strassburg s Tristan and Iseult, and countless other, Christianised versions Over a period, the Grail Quest has undergone countless variations, passed through the hands of countless poets and has apparently inspired countless people.Rather than giving a synopsis of this book which would prove an enormous task, and is sure not to do it justice I will try to summarise my reading experience by analysing the themes.Unlike the Orient, where the individual is just a cog in the cosmic wheel, and the Levant, where he is only a plaything in the hands of an omnipotent God, in the Occident he is everything The whole ethos of Western culture is built on the cult of the individual Joe Campbell sees the mythology of the Greeks driving the Western individual, rather than the religion of Christianity which he professes.In the Orient, the ways of initiation are mapped out you know what stage you re in, you find your guru, you submit to the guru, you do not criticize, you do what he tells you, and he leads you to your own experience Not so in this European quest In Parzival, you are to follow your own nature, your own inspiration following someone else will lead you only to ruin That is the sense of Parzival s journey, and that is the sense you get, briefly, here, as the knights set out on the quest for the Holy Grail The thing about myth is that it is timeless It is always present in the here and the now yet it all happened during some period when even time was not born As Joe saysFor in India, whether in its Hindu or its Buddhist teachings, the accent is again on the mystical side It is not on the importance of historical events that may or may not have taken place, but on the requirement that something should happen, here and now, in one s mind and will And this brings me to what is a crucial, if not the crucial problem of this whole subject, namely, that of the radical distinction between the esoteric mystical and exoteric historical ways of reading mythological symbols as references, on the one hand, to powers operative in the human heart as agents of transformation, and, on the other, to actual or imagined historical events The Church, however, froze the myth in historical time Christ became an actual person, dead and resurrected to atone for historical sins of the forefathers of the human race Instead of searching for the Kingdom of the Father which is spread over the earth , as the Gnostic Jesus said within oneself, the spiritual journey becomes simply one of accepting Christ as the role of the redeemer This enfeebles the whole quest and it was partially in rebellion to this, that the tale of the Holy Grail was born which, however, was later appropriated by Christianity.The most potent image of the Grail Quest is the Waste Land a country which has been laid to ruins because the king is sick, typically castrated by a poisoned wound to the groin The task of the hero is to heal the king, by asking the right question What ails thee But the hero, uninitiated and unenlightened, does not do that and for that reason has to go in quest of the Grail.Please bear in mind that this is the legendary Fisher King the Christ or the Bodhisattva too, according to Campbell who is a fisher of men offering himself as bait to men who have been alienated from God.And the Waste Land The Waste Land, then, is the land of people living inauthentic lives, doing what they think they must do to live, not spontaneously in the affirmation of life, but dutifully, obediently, and even grudgingly, because that is the way people are living This is the graveyard of the spirit and the Grail here is the philosopher s stone which will put it back to rights.The most important thing about the Grail quest is that it is different for everyone Every knight must enter the forest at a different place, where there is no beaten path, because Every human being is unique, and must find his or her adventure by entering the forest where there is no way or path This journey, taken in earnest, brings the adventurer to the Land of Enchantment which he must disenchant, for his quest to be successful.The idea of enchantment and disenchantment is that people at a certain time and place are forced to perceive the world in a way that is inadequate or improper to its character This makes me think of the Gnostic aphorism in the Gospel according to Thomas in which Christ is asked when the Kingdom will come And Christ says, It will not come by expectation It is here now The Kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it Men do not see it because of an enchantment In these legends the savior who is to disenchant the world is the equivalent of Christ, the Savior who opens men s eyes.One other persistent motif in the knightly sagas is adulterous love like that between Guinevere, Arthur s queen and Lancelot, or that between Tristan and Isolde, his uncle Mark s wife This also signifies a rebellion in an age where marriage was one of convenience and love was frowned upon, adultery was one way of asserting the individuals right But this adulterous love was not eros sexual attraction or agape platonic love rather it was amor, romantic love, where the loved object is loved for her essential nature.In Oriental love, the woman becomes the vessel of a supernatural power of a transcendent energy, whereas in the European cult she is adored for herself, not as a symbol of anything This is the essence of the romance of Tristan and Isolde, that of the doomed romantic lovers who however attain the godhead through the depth of their passion this motif is analysed at length in Campbell s The Masks of God, Volume 4 Creative Mythology.This whole cycle of adventurous tales might have roots in a primitive ritual, something which is analysed at length in J G Frazer s The Golden Bough This is the Bronze Age mythological cycle of the dead and resurrected deity, whose death and rebirth, ever recurring, was solemnly and dreadfully enacted in rites of lavish human sacrifice throughout the archaic world The ritual concerned a priest king who is married to the queen, and who looks after a sacred grove As the king grows old and loses his prowess, he is killed by a challenger who takes upon the role The nephew in love with the wife of the maternal uncle, as in the case of Tristan, is a common motif.Another motif was derived from the Iron Age, which in the British Isles commenced roughly with the entry of the Celtic tribes And the emphasis here was not on the generative powers of the earth, the heavens, and the waters beneath the earth, the female principle of nature s spontaneity as symbolized in the Magna Mater, but on the war craft and shaping power of the male, as represented chiefly by a type of brilliant hero, very much like the Homeric hero, supported by the deities of an emphatically patriarchal, thunder hurling pantheon The characteristic myth concerns the conquest of a monster of some kind, usually of a serpentine, dragonlike form, who, in fact, in the earlier mythology had been the son husband of Mother Earth as, for instance, Typhon had been of Gaia The dragon now is interpreted as the negative, binding, sterile aspect of the masculine principle, and the victory of the hero as the release of life the gold, the maiden from its hold Typical in the Greek context were the deeds of Apollo against the great Python of the Delphic Oracle, of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea beast, and of Theseus overcoming the Minotaur This, probably, is where the knight rescuing the damsel from the dragon comes from.To summarise this book is a wonderful introduction to the world of knightly valour Damn it, now I have to read all those adventures in the original My TBR pile keeps growing


  2. Nick Imrie Nick Imrie says:

    A perfect gem of a book for Arthuriana nerds Anyone with a love of heroism would enjoy it, I m sure Campbell does some neat and entertaining recaps of the myths he discusses, and the discussions are entertaining This is a collection of talks and essays collected together after his death, so the tone ranges from the witty and conversational to dense academese.There are certainly moments that get deep into the nitty gritty of divine and mythical genealogies, which will only satisfy the dedicate A perfect gem of a book for Arthuriana nerds Anyone with a love of heroism would enjoy it, I m sure Campbell does some neat and entertaining recaps of the myths he discusses, and the discussions are entertaining This is a collection of talks and essays collected together after his death, so the tone ranges from the witty and conversational to dense academese.There are certainly moments that get deep into the nitty gritty of divine and mythical genealogies, which will only satisfy the dedicated fan Is King Pellean a version of earlier fertility gods, the Zeus s of Northern pantheons Is Pellinore a different version of the same god Are Galahad and his companions echoes of the children Tuireann Perhaps you don t care about this sort of thing, but I don t see how anyone can avoid being fascinated by the way the spear and cup in the Grail Castle echo the lightning spear of storm gods and the everlasting cauldron of Celtic myth, and also the yoni and lingam symbolism of fertility gods, and finally the Christian spear that pierced Christ s side, and the cup that he drank from at the last supper Did the monks know the pagan and sexual origins of these symbols when they wrote their versions This is all very interesting, but what I found evenfascinating was Campbell s ideas about Christianity, the Western mind, and the Knights of the Round Table, not least because I ve just finished Dominion How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, which brushes against some of the same issues Campbell says that the Grail mythos flourished in the age of Cathedrals between 1150 and 1250, as the West finally recovered from the 500 years darkness that followed Roman withdrawal This mythos was an attempt to reconcile Christian theology with the Western temperament Christianity is a sort of mystery cult, founded and formed in the Levant and Middle East, holding certain doctrines that didn t sit well with Western traditions It s no co incidence that the Pelagian heresy came from Ireland, claiming that there was no such thing as original sin, since the idea that one can inherit the blame for the actions of another doesn t fit with Western individualism The Westerner also chafes at the idea that salvation required only submission, or that marriage could be both a political bargain and a sacrament, or that priests could be such terrible people themselves and yet spiritual authorities and the dispensers of sacraments.Out of these contradictions comes the Grail mythos of Knights who, while professing Christianity, still find their own path, follow their true nature, and are loyal to their true love Their salvation depends on their own character and integrity, and they cannot be swayed by social pressure, base desires, or spiritual authorities In the end the Grail is in the keep of a King, carried by a maiden, discovered by a married man not a monk, priest, or church in sight It s no co incidence that the Grail Mythos dropped off as the inquisition picked up It s was a direct threat to the spiritual authority of the church.Of all the versions of the Quest, Campbell likes Wolfram von Eschenbach s Parzifel best, because it best demonstrates his theory of the Grail quest as opposed to the ChurchIf Innocent III, instigator of the Albifensian Crusade was not his model for the malignant, castrated magicina of the Waste Land, Clinschor, I have missed my guessHis recap is wonderful and includes multiple Knights who refuse an inheritance, preferring to earn their own lives, Parzifel as a family man who is loyally married to his true love, Princesses who refuse to marry for anything except true love not accepting the current custom in troubadour poetry of marriage followed by adultery , Parzifel s loss of faith and regaining thereof on his own terms in making a confession to an unordained man, Muslim and Christian Knights as equals in a very interesting scene the Muslim Knight is willing to submit to baptism because of his love for a Christian woman, but interestingly is baptised not in holy water, but in the water of the philosopher s stone, at which point an inscription appears on the Grail Any Templar appointed by God s hand to be master over a foreign folk must forbid the asking of his name or race and help them to their rights A declaration of universal human rights in the 12th century Reading along with Campbell s interpretations of these great myths is really good fun, it makes me want to go back and read them all over again And especially pick up Wolfram von Eschenbach It s been so long since I ve read these stories, I don t even know what version I read, it was probably Roger Lancelyn Green Time to get down to the source


  3. Christine Beverly Christine Beverly says:

    Mindblown I have to take Joseph Campbell s work in small doses it is so dense and packed with revelations that to take the book at a sitting or two would be absolutely overwhelming I loved how he traced the origins of the Arthurian myths back to Neolithic, Celtic, Roman, and German and even Asian backgrounds I was stunned by his revelation that 432 the year of St Patrick s mission is a mythological number tying to the Indian Puranas Great Cycle the world s creation, flowering, an Mindblown I have to take Joseph Campbell s work in small doses it is so dense and packed with revelations that to take the book at a sitting or two would be absolutely overwhelming I loved how he traced the origins of the Arthurian myths back to Neolithic, Celtic, Roman, and German and even Asian backgrounds I was stunned by his revelation that 432 the year of St Patrick s mission is a mythological number tying to the Indian Puranas Great Cycle the world s creation, flowering, and dissolution which is 4, 320,000 yearswhich represents the Day of Brahma and which is followed by an identical Night of Brahma the two of which add up to 8,640,000 And then, as only Joseph Campbell can do, tying it back to the physical a heart rate of about 60 beats per minute equals 86,400 beats per day So our little human days and nights are the miniatures of the Great Days and Nights of Brahmathe beating of our hearts, meanwhile, remains in accord with the pulse of creation which means at equinox, our heart will beat 43,200 in the day 43,200 in the night Just wow And this is just at the beginning of the text I ll never look at the King Arthur, Merlin, Gawain, or any of the other legends the same again


  4. Patrick Patrick says:

    I have read and appreciated Arthurian Legend for decadesbut not as a scholar Mythology is not my field but Campbell s scholarship and philosophy has become a very important part of my spiritual outlook I have always been inspired and intrigued by the deeds and lessons of the Arthurian tales They always resonated with truths that I could use to interpret, evaluate, and or guide my life This book is yet another facet of Cambell s work that will impress you with it s ingenuity, depth and fra I have read and appreciated Arthurian Legend for decadesbut not as a scholar Mythology is not my field but Campbell s scholarship and philosophy has become a very important part of my spiritual outlook I have always been inspired and intrigued by the deeds and lessons of the Arthurian tales They always resonated with truths that I could use to interpret, evaluate, and or guide my life This book is yet another facet of Cambell s work that will impress you with it s ingenuity, depth and frame of reference, and accessibility From there do with it what thou wilt


  5. Sam Torode Sam Torode says:

    I thought the well of unpublished Campbell lectures essays may be dry after Goddesses, so Romance of the Grail is a great surprise I m enjoying these reflections on individualism and love in the Middle Ages I hope there arebooks yet to come in the Collected Works I thought the well of unpublished Campbell lectures essays may be dry after Goddesses, so Romance of the Grail is a great surprise I m enjoying these reflections on individualism and love in the Middle Ages I hope there arebooks yet to come in the Collected Works


  6. Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin says:

    I usually like Joe Campbell s stuff but frankly, Knights on horseback have never done it for me I find some aspects of the middle ages interesting but Knights and courtly stories weren t a part of it Sorry, not my thing I tried.


  7. Doc Doc says:

    Because of the PBS shows I will always see and hear this man when I read his books Nor a bad thing.


  8. Greg Lico Greg Lico says:

    I have loved Arthurian legends since I took a course on Medieval Literature in my junior year of high school The romantic stories of brave knights in shining armor accomplishing great deeds in the name of God, king, and love thrilled me I loved to imagine myself as a knight errant in these tales My particular favorite Arthurian story was that of Yvain by the French poet Chretien de Troyes It told the personal transformation of a knight who must win back the love of his wife He does this by I have loved Arthurian legends since I took a course on Medieval Literature in my junior year of high school The romantic stories of brave knights in shining armor accomplishing great deeds in the name of God, king, and love thrilled me I loved to imagine myself as a knight errant in these tales My particular favorite Arthurian story was that of Yvain by the French poet Chretien de Troyes It told the personal transformation of a knight who must win back the love of his wife He does this by traveling throughout the land with a lion and accomplishing many great deeds Finally, she takes him back and they live happily ever after I loved this story because it shows how one man realized that he needs to be a better man so he can win his wife back He turns his life around after a profound mental breakdown only to build himself into the perfect knight Romance of the Grail is the first scholarly work I have read to treat the Arthurian tales I am greatly indebted to Joseph Campbell His work on mythology has changed my life and how I view the world and our inherited myths Romance of the Grail continues the great series of Campbell s collected works Many of my favorite essays Joseph Campbell has written were about Arthurian subjects and I have gotten a great deal of insight out of them This lectures on the third DVD volume of Mythos contains two on Arthurian subjects It was just great to finally read a work devoted to the subject The work itself is not narrative, but consists of a series of essays on the major works and themes found in Arthurian legend Campbell argues that the stories of King Arthur and his knights were the world s first secular mythology, without religious connotations or dogma Instead these stories were about amor Amor , as defined by Campbell, was the connection between other people that would lead a person to become acomplete human being Knights in these stories are defined by their relationships to the men they fought with and the women they loved In the Middle Ages, the central conflict of the characters in the stories of Arthurian Romances is about Honor and Love and which does one choose Parzival is one of the great masterpieces of High Medieval culture, but it is not as well known to people as Malory s Le Morte d Arthur or Dante s Divine Comedy It is a shame because this is a work that can transform the lives of those who read it I myself read it one summer and I feel that my life is better for it To make an incredibly long story short, Parzival is the story of a young, innocent fool who goes questing to become a knight at King Arthur s court and has many marvelous and terrifying adventures The heart of the story revolves around Parzival at the Castle of the Grail The grail appears in this story not as a cup, but as a stone that fell from Heaven It s special power derives from the fact that it can both provide food and keep all those who posses it eternally young The King of the Grail, Amfortas, is wounded in a joust, and because of that the land begins to wither but not die The only way he can be cured is if a stranger comes to the castle of the Grail and asks a particular question Only then can the king and the land be healed The Grail is tied directly with the abundance and success of the land The Grail is the bringer of life In Campbell s mind, Amfortas was wounded in battle because he fought for love and not for God as a king should do Parzival however, fails to ask the question and so must begin the adventure all over again Finally after years of travel and adventure, Parzival is mature enough to return to the Castle of the Grail and ask the question Amfortas is healed and Parzival becomes the new king.Campbell s essay compares Parzival s journey with the Buddha as he goes out into the world to discover spiritual enlightenment The Buddha wishes to understand why do we suffer and what he can do to solve it After his meditation for forty days and forty nights under a bodhi tree, he discovers the Middle Path Parzival s name in French means through the middle He tries to incorporate both pairs of opposites, the black and the white That, for Campbell, is the theme of the story of Parzival, understanding both the positive and negative aspects of life but without committing to one or the other side Parzival s story speaks to me because we all are on a journey in life We meet people who will touch and change our lives that we never thought possible Chapter Five looks at the tragic tale of Tristan and Isolde, the Romeo and Juliet of the Arthurian story These stories focused on romantic love In the Middle Ages, people of high birth were in arranged marriages As the saying went back then, first comes marriage, then comes love In Tristan and Isolde, however, we have a pair of lovers who choose love over marriage Their love is adulterous Tristan is the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall and Isolde is an Irish princess married to Mark To love is to feel pain, and Tristan and Isolde feel great pain in their love for one another In Campbell s view, the story of Tristan and Isolde show what happens when a knight chooses love over honor He must go to great lengths to conceal his adulterous love with the woman he loves Campbell told this story with such passion in the book that I felt the pain of love that Tristan and Isolde shared for one another It is the love stories where the lovers can never truly be together that really stand the test of time Romance of the Grail was simply a joy to read from cover to cover If I ever get the chance to teach Medieval Literature, I will be sure to use this book in class Maybe I can reach a student who feels the same way I do about these tales and their importance in our world


  9. Michele Michele says:

    This volume has been long anticipated Campbell s foundational scholarship was on the grail stories Much of this material has been previously unavailable These chapters are rare gems that provide personal illumination for the reader It is well researched, and well written, and sheds light on why the myth of Arthur resonates with everyone and explains the reason the myth came to be If you re an Arthurian lover and a fan of Joseph Campbell I highly recommend this book for you.


  10. David Melbie David Melbie says:

    Excellent New World Library has been cranking out these wonderful collections for nearly two decades now and this one is top notch This is also an important collection of Campbell s work because it is where he started in academia And, the bonus included in the book is Campbell s Columbia University thesis, A Study of the Dolorous StrokeI will be reading this a fewtimes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth [Reading] ➶ Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth By Joseph Campbell – Thomashillier.co.uk The first collection of Joseph Campbell s writings and lectures on the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages, a central focus of his celebrated scholarship, edited and introduced by Arthurian scholar the Grail: Epub ß The first collection of Joseph Campbell s writings and lectures on the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages, a central focus of his celebrated scholarship, edited and introduced by Arthurian scholar Evans Lansing Smith, PhD, the chair of Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute Throughout his life, Joseph Campbell was deeply engaged in the study of the Grail Quests and Arthurian legends of the European Middle Ages In this new volume of the Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, editor Evans Lansing Smith collects Romance of PDF or Campbell s writings and lectures on Arthurian legends, including his never before published master s thesis on Arthurian myth, A Study of the Dolorous Stroke Campbell s writing captures the incredible stories of such figures as Merlin, Gawain, and Guinevere as well as the larger patterns and meanings revealed in these myths Merlin s death and Arthur receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, for example, are not just vibrant stories but also central to the mythologist s thinkingThe Arthurian myths opened the of the Grail: MOBI ò world of comparative mythology to Campbell, turning his attention to the Near and Far Eastern roots of myth Calling the Arthurian romances the world s first secular mythology, Campbell found metaphors in them for human stages of growth, development, and psychology The myths exemplify the kind of love Campbell called amor, in which individuals become fully themselves through connection Campbell s infectious delight in his discoveries makes this volume essential for anyone intrigued by the stories we tell and the stories behind them.