The Story of The Holy Grail

By Chretien de Troyes

The Story of the Grail (to give it its original title) is a story about naming; about what things are. Riding out to visit his mother's labourers, the boy encounters a group of knights, whom he believes must be angels. When they ask him his name, he replies with the set by which people call him: Dear Son, Dear Brother, Good Master ' the last getting an acknowledgment as a 'fine name' from the knight who is questioning him, as it indicates high status. He determines to go to King Arthur and get himself made a knight. Before he sets out, his mother gives him instructions on how to behave in the world, and tells him something of his own history ' how his father and brothers were killed in combat and she had withdrawn to the forest to preserve her last remaining child. She does not, however, name any of them, despite her insistence that one of the most important things he must do is to find out the names of his companions wherever he rides or lodges, 'for a name tells you a man'. Her son rides off to find King Arthur, leaving her swooning with grief. He still does not know who he is. [read more]

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