Bounds of Imagination:Grail Questing and Chivalric Colonizing in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival
The Grail, the Quest and the World of Arthur, ed. Norris J. Lacy (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2008)
The Arthurian and Grail narratives of the High Middle Ages, particularly by means of their adventures and quests, occupied a new territory in the imagination of Western Europe. In a manner that might be likened to the expansion of Europe and Europeans in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries into the Holy Land in the Crusades, and of Germans from their population concentrations close to the Rhine into the eastern territories, the courtly chivalric romances – via their basic dynamic of movement from courtly chivalric centers outward – find their way in wild, often uncharted landscapes, full of dangers, and upon overcoming them, claim and occupy them on behalf of God and knighthood. The connection suggested here may be more than an analogy. If imagined worlds and actions expand, enrich and multiply perspectives of the real world and of possible actions in it, then the courtlychivalric romances are not only a new kind of narrative art that reiterates the increasing expansion and control one notes in other cultural and political domains in the High Middle Ages, but also a new intellectual and emotional enabler of expansion and control.