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Perceval, the Story of the Grail

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Perceval, the Story of the Grail (French: Perceval ou le Conte du Graal) is the unfinished fifth romance of Chrétien de Troyes, who lived from around 1130 to the early 1190s, and is dedicated to Chrétien's patron Philip I, Count of Flanders. It was written in Old French during the 1180s or 1190s and likely left unfinished because of the death of either Philip in 1191, while crusading at Acre, or Chrétien himself. Chrétien claimed to be working from a source given to him by Philip. The poem relates the adventures and growing pains of the young knight Perceval, but the story breaks off. There follows an adventure of Gawain of similar length that also remains incomplete. There are some 9,000 lines in total, whereas Chrétien's other romances seldom exceed 7,000 lines. Later authors added 54,000 more lines in what are known collectively as the Four Continuations. Perceval is the earliest recorded account of what was to become the Quest for the Holy Grail but describes only a golden grail (a serving dish) in the central scene, does not call it "holy," and treats a lance, appearing at the same time, as equally significant.
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date of publication: 1176
genre: courtly romance
narrative location: England
follows: Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

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