Le Roman du Graal The Romance of the Grail
by Robert de Boron, ca. 1200-1210

An early Grail romance, written after Chretien's Perceval, it is believed to have consisted of three sections: Joseph of Arimathea
Merlin
Perceval

Only the first poem and five hundred lines of the second still exist. However, at least two prose versions exist, one in the Didot manuscript, from which Robert's romance can be reconstructed:

  • Joseph of Arimathea: which details the wandering of Joseph after the crucifixion, and of his brother-in-law Brons the Fisher King, and of the excursion to Avalon
  • Merlin: which tells of Merlin's begetting by a devil, the reign of Uther, the birth of Arthur, the Sword in the Stone, and the establishement of the Round Table by Merlin.
  • Perceval: which picks up where Merlin ended, at Arthur's corronation; at this time, Perceval appears, and the quest for the Grail begins.
  • Mort Artu: which tells of Mordred's treason and the death of Arthur.

    What becomes evident is that this Roman would, in ten years time, give the composures of The Vulgate Cycle/Lancelot - Grail Cycle a framework on which to set their story, only now the story surrounds Lancelot du Lac (who does not appear in de Boron's text) and Galahad.

    It is also interesting to note that there is a seperate Prose Lancelot, earlier than the Vulgate cycle, which seems to rely on de Boron's romance as the setting of his story; here, there is no Galahad, and Perceval is explicitly mentioned as the Grail knight.

    There has recently (as in 2001) been a translation of the Modena manuscript, which gives the prose version of the complete romance. It is called Merlin and the Grail, translated by Nigel Bryant, and is available from Amazon, et al. I highly recommend it. I have also posted an earlier translation from the 1960s, by Dell Skeel.


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    Mary Jones 2003