Representations of the grail quest in medieval and modern literature

Ropa, Anastasija (2014) Representations of the grail quest in medieval and modern literature. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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This thesis explores the representation and meaning of the Grail quest in medieval and modern literature, using the methodologies of historically informed criticism and feminist criticism. In the thesis, I consider the themes of death, gender relations and history in two medieval romances and three modern novels in which the Grail quest is the structuring motif. Comparing two sets of texts coming from different historical periods enhances our understanding of each text, because not only are the modern texts influenced by their medieval precursors, but also our perception of medieval Grail quest romances is modified by modern literature. Studying medieval and modern Grail quest literature side by side also places the phenomenon of modern medievalism into a new perspective; this approach brings out the differences between the Grail quest in texts written in a society that shared a set of Christian values and those written in a post-religious context. Research conducted in the thesis shows that the texts within each group also differ between themselves, depending on the socio-historical circumstances in which the texts were written and read. In the first part of the thesis (Chapters 1-4), I discuss the themes of death, the role of women as spiritual guides, and the relation between familial and world history in two medieval romances. I approach these issues from the perspective of minor characters, women and non-elect knights (who have previously been little studied). I argue that the experiences of these marginal characters are important for understanding both the context in which the romances‟ major characters operate and the representation of questers in modern literature, which often places the unheroic, ordinary or even deviant characters into the limelight. In the second part of the thesis (Chapters 5-7), I consider three modern novels that use the Christian motif of the Grail quest to structure their narratives, examining ways in which modern writers use medieval tropes in a post-religious age. In each chapter, I explore the place of death, relations between the questers and female characters and the impact of family and the world histories on the individual‟s identity in the respective novel. The conclusion brings together the research findings and suggests areas for further research in medieval and modern literature about the Grail quest.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of English Literature
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2015 14:17
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2016 09:36
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4696
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