Post-Vulgate Cycle

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The Post-Vulgate Cycle is one of the major Old French prose cycles of Arthurian literature. It is essentially a rehandling of the earlier Vulgate Cycle (also known as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle), with much left out and much added, including characters and scenes from the Prose Tristan.

The Post-Vulgate, written probably between 1230 and 1240, is an attempt to create greater unity in the material, and to de-emphasise the secular love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere in favor of the Quest for the Holy Grail. It omits almost all of the Vulgate's Lancelot Proper section, making it much shorter than its source, and directly condemns everything but the spiritual life. It does not survive complete, but has been reconstructed from French, Castilian Spanish, and Portuguese fragments.

This cycle of works was one of the most important sources of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

The work is divided into four sections. Many of these sections are largely similar to the previous Vulgate versions.

  • The Estoire del Saint Grail, which did not differ significantly from the Vulgate version. It tells the story of Joseph of Arimathea and his son Josephus, who brings the Holy Grail to Britain.
  • The Estoire de Merlin (also called the Vulgate or Prose Merlin), which also bears few changes from the Vulgate. It concerns Merlin and the early history of Arthur.
    • To this section is added the Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, also known as the Huth-Merlin, the first departure from the source material. It adds many adventures of Arthur and the early Knights of the Round Table, and includes details about Arthur's incestuous begetting of Mordred and receiving Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake that are not found in the Vulgate. The author added some relevant material from the Vulgate's Lancelot Proper section and the first version of the Prose Tristan to connect the events to the Queste section.
  • The Queste del Saint Graal. The Post-Vulgate Queste is very different in tone and content from the Vulgate version, but still describes the knights' search for the Holy Grail, which can only be achieved by the worthy knights Galahad, Percival, and Bors. Elements from the Prose Tristan are present, including the character Palamedes and King Mark's invasions of Arthur's realm.
  • The Mort Artu, concerning Arthur's death at the hands of his son Mordred and the collapse of his kingdom. It is closely based on the Vulgate Mort but was written with greater connectivity to the previous sections.

References[edit]

Modern editions[edit]

Norris J. Lacy[edit]

The first full English translation of the Vulgate and Post-Vulgate Cycles were overseen by Norris J. Lacy. Volumes 4–5 contain Post-Vulgate Cycle.

  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (December 1, 1992). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 1 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8240-7733-4.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (August 1, 1993). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 2 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-0746-2.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (March 1, 1995). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 3 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-0747-0.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (April 1, 1995). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 4 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-0748-9.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (May 1, 1996). Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation, Volume 5 of 5. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-0757-8.

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Bogdanow, Fanni. (1966). The Romance of the Grail: A Study of the Structure and Genesis of a Thirteenth-Century Arthurian Prose Romance. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Bogdanow, Fanni. (1986). "La Chute du royaume d'Arthur. Evolution d'un thème." Romania 107 pp504-19.
  • Lacy, Norris J. (Ed.) (2000). The Lancelot-Grail Reader. New York: Garland. ISBN 0-8153-3419-2