User:Klingsor

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Illuminated manuscript page of Parzival

Parzival is a medieval Germany|German Romance (heroic literature)|romance written by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach in Middle High German. The poem, commonly dated to the first quarter of the 13th century, centers on the Arthurian hero Percival|Parzival (Percival in English language|English) and his long quest for the Holy Grail following his initial failure to achieve it.

Parzival begins with the knightly adventures of Parzival's father, Gahmuret, his marriage to Herzeloyde (Middle High German herzeleide, "heart's sorrow"), and the birth of Parzival. The story continues as Parzival meets three elegant knights, decides to seek King Arthur, and continues a spiritual and physical search for the Holy Grail|Grail. A long section is devoted to Parzival's friend Gawain|Gawan and his adventures defending himself from a false murder charge and winning the hand of the maiden Orgeluse. Among the most striking elements of the work are its emphasis on the importance of humility, compassion, sympathy and the quest for spirituality.[1] A major theme in Parzival is love: heroic acts of chivalry are inspired by true love, which is ultimately fulfilled in marriage.[2] The romance was the most popular vernacular verse narrative in medieval Germany,Template:Sfn and continues to be read and translated into modern languages around the world. Wolfram began a prequel, Titurel, which was later continued by another writer, while two full romances were written adapting Wolfram's story of Lohengrin|Loherangrin. Richard Wagner based his famous opera Parsifal, finished in 1882, on Parzival.

Structure

Parzival is divided into sixteen books, each composed of several thirty-line stanzas of rhyme|rhyming couplets. The stanza lengths fit perfectly onto a manuscript page. For the subject matter Wolfram von Eschenbach largely adapted the Grail romance, Perceval, the Story of the Grail, left incomplete by Chrétien de Troyes.[3][4] Wolfram claimed that a certain Kyot the Provence|Provençal supplied additional material drawn from Arabic and Angevin sources but most scholars now consider Kyot to be Wolfram's invention and part of the fictional narrative.[5]

Background and early life

Book I opens with the death of King Gandin, Parzival's grandfather. His oldest son, Galoes, receives the kingdom but offers his brother Gahmuret the land of Anjou in fief. However, Gahmuret departs to gain renown. He travels to the African kingdom of Zazamanc, whose capital is besieged by two different armies. Gahmuret offers his services to the city, and his offer is accepted by Queen Belacane. He conquers the invaders, marries Queen Belacane, and becomes king of Zazamanc and Azagouc. Growing bored with peace, Gahmuret steals away on a ship, abandoning his pregnant wife. Belacane later gives birth to a son, Feirefiz (whose skin is mottled black and white).

In Book II, Gahmuret returns to the West, where he meets and marries Queen Herzeloyde. Ever restless, however, he soon returns to fight for the Baruch in the Far East, where he is later killed by a treacherous acquaintance.

Book III tells of how the pregnant Herzeloyde, grief-stricken at her husband's death, retires to a secluded forest dwelling and vows to protect her new child, Parzival, from the ways of knighthood at all costs by raising him entirely ignorant of chivalry and the ways of men. His seclusion is shattered by three knights passing who tell him of King Arthur's court at Camelot. Enamored, he decides to go join Arthur's court. His mother is heartbroken at the news of his decision but allows him to depart, dressing him in fool's garments in the hopes that the knights will refuse to take him in. Soon after his departure she dies, utterly bereft.
  1. Loomis, Roger Sherman. Development of Arthurian Romance, Hutchsinson and Company, 1963, 70.
  2. Weigand, Hermann J. Three Chapters on Courtly Love in Arthurian France and Germany, University of North Carolina Press, 1956, 33.
  3. Chrétien de Troyes. The Complete Romances of Chrétien de Troyes-"The Story of the Grail", ed. David Staines, Indiana University Press, 1990, 340. Template:ISBN
  4. BBC Gallery, Parzival and the Holy Grail
  5. Template:Harvnb