Book Review: Joseph Goering's the Virgin's and the Grail

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In The Virgin and the Grail, Joseph Goering departs on a quest to discover the true origins of the grail legend. Goering reminds us that the story of the Holy Grail is not an ancient myth whose roots are lost in the depths of time. The Grail legend was invented by medieval poets and storytellers in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The earliest surviving account of a sacred vessel called a Grail is found in a medieval romance entitled The Story of the Grail (Conte du Graal) written by Chretien de Troyes in the north of France at the end of the twelfth century. This story of how the young Perceval comes of age, and of his encounter with the mysterious vessel or serving dish. Within little more than a decade, in Germany, Wolfram von Eschenbach composed his Parzival, an even longer version of the story, in which he embellished and elaborated the story of Parzival (Perceval) and of his adventures, while taking issue with and correcting Chretien's depiction of the Grail itself. At about the same time as Wolfram was writing his Parzival, another poet, Robert de Boron provided a different account of the origins of the Grail and thus transformed the story in even more radical ways. The threads of these various traditions concerning the Grail and its history were drawn together and elaborated in the so called Vulgate cycle by unknown authors, and especially in the first book of that cycle, the Estoire del Saint Graal. Shortly after the appearance of this work, Helinand of Froidmont wrote the first historical description of the Grail. His brief discussion is the first sign that the enigmatic and elusive grail, introduced into the world of romantic fiction by Chretien de Troyes, was on the verge of becoming an object of historical, and not just poetic, investigation. In this novel Joseph Goering elaborates on the true origins of the grail in order to emphasize

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