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Cultures courtoises en mouvement

Isabelle Arseneau
Francis Gingras

Discours et contre-discours de la courtoisie

Fin’Amors Refined: The Spiritual Sublimation of the Courtly Couple in the Queste del Saint Graal

Hannah Zdansky

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In the closing chapters of the Queste del Saint Graal, we meet a maiden whose character in the narrative, like the ship on which we find her, seems shrouded in mystery. But this is no ordinary Arthurian damsel, who enters into the plot only to move it along and exits as quickly as she came. Perceval’s sister occupies a very significant place in the typology and religious import of the Queste. Our anonymous author, with likely Cistercian connections, made a choice in including her, a choice which may reveal much about the medieval Christian conception of the Couple. The encounter between Galahad and Perceval’s sister can be read not only in conversation with the account of Adam and Eve which divides it, but also perhaps in light of “the first sustained narrative in Old French […],” “the starting point of the history of French literature,”1 the Vie de saint Alexis, for the two texts have much in common. At the beginning and end of the Vie de saint Alexis, we have a courtly couple. Ale...


University of Notre-Dame

© Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2011