Narcissus and Trauma: Chrétien de Troyes’s Story of the Grail

  • Nicholas Ealy
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter treats narcissism and selfhood, through the lens of trauma, in Chrétien de Troyes’s Story of the Grail (c. 1181). Trauma, etymologically related to “wound” and “piercing” in Greek, appears in the text in a series of woundings in narcissine imagery that define Perceval’s selfhood. Denying the wounded bodies of his father, the Fisher King, and the goose of the blood-on-snow scene, Perceval searches for an unwounded selfhood based on knightly principles and violent autonomy. The wounded bodies point toward Perceval’s confrontation with Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday, the ultimate example of a traumatized body. Christ intersects with Narcissus’s myth and its emphasis upon the collapse of self and other, leading Perceval to accept himself as wounded by the needs of others through charity.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Ealy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HartfordWest HartfordUSA

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