chapter  9
14 Pages

Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival Excerpt from Book IX, translated by Cyril Edwards

ByIntroduction by Norris J. Lacy

Soon after Chrétien had written his enigmatic and unfinished Perceval, the German author Wolfram von Eschenbach composed his monumental Parzival (ca. 1210). He was clearly influenced by Chrétien, though he criticizes the French writer and contends that he heard the story, as it should be told, from one Kyot the Provençal (whose existence is doubted by most Wolfram scholars). Parzival is a long and difficult romance; it is stylistically and narratively convoluted, a fact that Wolfram himself notes with apparent pride. Similarly, he prides himself on the inability of others to grasp the subtleties of his work: at the very beginning he offers a reflection on constancy and its opposite and then announces that “This flying image is far too fleet for fools. They can’t think it through, for it knows how to dart from side to side before them, just like a startled hare” (Edwards translation, p. 1).