"Perceval" by Chrétien de Troyes

Perceval The Story of the Grail Chrétien de Troyes, Burton Raffel

Publication date:
11 Jan 1999
Yale University Press
320 pages: 210 x 140mm
Sales territories:


One of the most influential storytellers in Western literature, French poet Chrétien de Troyes helped to shape the ever-fascinating legend of King Arthur and the Round Table. Of Chrétien's five surviving romantic Arthurian poems, the last and longest is Perceval, an unfinished work that introduces the story of the Grail—a legend quickly adopted by other medieval writers and taken up by a continuing succession of authors. In Chrétien's romance, Perceval progresses from a naive boyhood in rural seclusion to a position of high respect as a knight at Arthur's court. With the help of two teachers—his mother and Gornemant of Goort—Perceval is ultimately able to reject the worldly adventures chosen by other knights and seek important moral and spiritual answers.

Acclaimed for his sensitive and faithful translations of the poems of Chrétien, Burton Raffel completes the Arthurian series with this rendition of Perceval. Raffel conveys to the modern English language reader all the delights of Chrétien’s inventive storytelling, perceptive characterizations and vividly evoked emotions.

Burton Raffel is distinguished professor of humanities at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. His publications include six books and chapbooks of poetry, three texts on the translation process, and translations of many works, including the five Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes.

"Raffel?s effort is very good and eminently readable. It is not perfect, but no translation is. If we hope to introduce American students to the great work of medieval literature, it will happen through translations. And Raffel?s effort, highly readable, a flowing rendition, is a good step in the right direction."?Wendy Pfeffer, Medieval Review

"Raffel herewith completes his translation of the five 12th-century French Arthurian romances of Chr‚tien de Troyes. Though Raffel does not imitate the original?s usually end-stopped rhymed octosyllabic couplets, this review recommends his often enjambed, unrhymed, page-turning style for readers at all levels. . . . Recommended for public and academic collections at all levels."?Choice

"Acclaimed for his sensitive and faithful translations of the work of French poet Chr‚tien de Troyes, Burton Raffel completes the series of five romances that helped to shape the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. This translation conveys to the modern English language reader all the delights of Chr‚tien?s inventive storytelling, perceptive characterizations, racy wit, sure handed dialogue, and vividly evoked emotions."?Translation Review