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Shifting Boundaries: Religious Communities and the Grail

  • Kenneth Hodges
Part of the Studies in Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)

Abstract

The “Sankgreal” counterbalances “Arthur and Lucius” structurally and thematically.1 They are in roughly symmetric positions in Le Morte Darthur (in Vinaver’s three-volume edition,“Arthur and Lucius” starts about 180 pages from the beginning; the “Sankgreal” finishes about 220 pages from the ending), and they separate the beginning and the end of the book from the sprawling middle, thus marking off the sections that deal most directly with the rise and fall of Arthur’s empire from those tales focusing on the deeds of individual knights. Stylistically, they are the most distinctive tales, and, critically, the most apt to be considered as separate units within the narrative. The two tales each turn their attention to events well outside Britain’s borders, but with very different consequences. “Arthur and Lucius” develops a sense of England as a nation by insulating England from the threat of excessive foreign influence. The “Sankgreal,” on the other hand, downplays the national bond to insist on the bonds that link English Christians to the east.

Keywords

Religious Community Round Table Fifteenth Century English Nation Christian Community 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Fabienne L. Michelet links “Arthur and Lucius” and the “Sankgreal” by suggesting that the war with Rome establishes a crusading ideal that Arthur fails to bring to fruition in the quest for the Grail. The argument depends on the Grail quest being a kind of crusade, but this is doubtful; it features personal understanding and control, not a fight against outsiders. See Fabienne L. Michelet, “East and West in Malory’s Roman War: The Implications of Arthur’s Travels on the Continent,” Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication 18.2–3 (1999): 209–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
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Copyright information

© Kenneth Hodges 2005

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  • Kenneth Hodges

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