Eternal Chalice: The Enduring Legend of the Holy Grail

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9781845113605: Eternal Chalice: The Enduring Legend of the Holy Grail

""What is the secret of the Grail?"" So intoned a heavenly voice to Sir Percival in John Boorman's stylish and influential film Excalibur (1981). The sacred allure of the Holy Grail has fascinated writers and ensnared knights for over a thousand years. From Malory to Monty Python, the eternal chalice--said to be the very cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper--has the richest associations of any icon in British myth. Many different meanings have been devised for the Grail, which has been linked to the Celts and King Arthur, the eucharistic rites of Eastern Christianity, ancient mystery religions, Jungian archetypes, dualist heresies, Templar treasure and even the alleged descendants of Christ himself and Mary Magdalene. The common thread running through all these stories is the assumption that the Grail legend has a single source with a meaning that--if only we could decode it--is concealed in the romances themselves. That meaning has become the subject of coded, secret documents and is the central feature of a vast conspiracy supposedly stretching back to the dawn of western civilization. Juliette Wood here reveals the elusive and embedded significance of the Grail story in popular consciousness--as myth, medieval romance, tangible holy relic and finally as the centre of an esoteric theory of global conspiracy. The author shows how various interpretations of the Grail, over the centuries, reflect changing cultural needs and desires. Her book will enthrall those who, like Sir Percival, seek to unlock the mysterious secrets of western mythology's most extraordinary and tantalizing enigma, and will delight students of history, myth and religion alike.

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About the Author:

Juliette Wood is one of Britain's leading experts on myth and folklore. Secretary of the Folklore Society, London, she is also an Associate Lecturer in the Department of Welsh at the University of Wales, Cardiff. A regular contributor to TV and radio, she is the author of several books on Celtic myth and legend, such as The Celts: Life, Myth and Legend (Duncan Baird 2003) and The Rose and the Thistle: Essays on the Culture of Late Medieval and Renaissance Scotland (Tuckwell Press).

Review:

"Eternal Chalice is an authoritative, informed and highly readable account of the Grail and the traditions which accompany it, ranging from early Celtic legend to The Da Vinci Code, Juliette Wood debunks, explains and brings to vivid life the extraordinary true history of the Holy Grail."--Carolyne Larrington, St. John's College, Oxford, and author of King Arthur's Enchantresses

"There are many valuable and exciting aspects to this book. First, it is wonderful to have the Grail legend treated by somebody who is equally at home in the fields of history, folklore, literary criticism and conspiracy theory. Second, it breaks new and important ground to have the legend investigated by a scholar who is just as conversant with modern developments of it as with the medieval originals, and can place both in a proper cultural context. The author's careful analysis of the modern aspects is particularly helpful. A great deal has now been published by proponents and debunkers of one particular contemporary Grail tradition or another, but this the first book written by somebody who knows about the lot. In one sense Eternal Chalice is a work about one of the world's great mythical traditions; in another, about what it meant to be medieval and means to be modern; and, in still another, about the nature of myth itself. All aspects are handled equally well by Juliette Wood, and with no little aplomb."--Ronald Hutton, Professor of History, University of Bristol and author of Witches, Druids and King Arthur

"The Grail has been a source of mystery and speculation from the twelfth century to the twenty-first, as generations of scholars and commentators have looked for a key to its origin and meaning. Few legends have stimulated such passionate debate: was it a platter or a chalice, did it contain a severed head, a communion wafer or Christ's blood? In this groundbreaking and wide-ranging study, Dr Juliette Wood traces the evolution of Grail traditions from possible Celtic archetypes to the earliest sources in medieval poetry and chivalric, from Arthurian romance to psychoanalysis, and from astrology and New Age spirituality to contemporary conspiracy theories and tales of a secret bloodline. Carefully analysing the wealth of documentary and archaeological evidence, and drawing on her unusually detailed knowledge of the sources in many languages and media, she brings the fresh insights of the folklorist to an old and highly controversial tradition. Marrying scholarly rigour with a lively, approachable style, Dr Wood reveals how - and why - the Grail theme has lent itself to reinterpretation for every age under the influence of contemporary legends and concerns. Eternal Chalice bridges the usual gulf between academic and popular writing and will become essential reading for everyone fascinated by the Grail, from mediaevalists to the most enthusiastic fans of The Da Vinci Code."-- Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, formerly Head of Manuscripts and Visual Images, National Library of Wales

"The origins of the legend of the Holy Grail are as various as they are obscure. The legend itself has fascinated western man for more than a thousand years. It has been the subject of intense and often fanciful research. It has inspired devotion and spawned conspiracy theories, and there is no sign of interest slackening. Indeed in our age, which has lost any unifying coherent belief, the Grail myths are the subject of ever more extravagant fantasies. Juliette Wood punctures many of them in this comprehensive study of the subject. She brings true and thorough scholarship and common sense to a subject which has often been devoid of both. This is the best survey of all that pertains to the Grail legend that I have ever read. Written with an admirable freedom from academic jargon, it shines light where there was previously darkness."--Allan Massie, author of Arthur the King

''...This is an informative book on a difficult topic... the core of the book lies in the study of the Grail story in modern times...today’s quest for the Grail...is preoccupied with the fight against ‘evil’ (person or institution) as part of a personal journey of discovery via a thrilling adventure...the overall analysis of the way in which modernism has changed Grail fiction, including fantasy novels, thrillers, film, video and role-playing games, underpins this academically impeccable accessible and wide-ranging work, and the attempt at putting it into context is especially trenchant and concise in the conclusion...''-- Times Higher Education Supplement

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Book Description I.B.Tauris Co. Ltd., United Kingdom, 2008. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is the secret of the Grail? So intoned a heavenly voice to Sir Percival in John Boorman s stylish and influential film Excalibur (1981). The sacred allure of the Holy Grail has fascinated writers and ensnared knights for over a thousand years. From Malory to Monty Python, the eternal chalice - said to be the very cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper - has the richest associations of any icon in British myth. Many different meanings have been devised for the Grail, which has been linked to King Arthur, ancient mystery religions, Jungian archetypes, dualist heresies, Templar treasure and even the alleged descendants of Christ himself and Mary Magdalene. Juliette Wood here reveals the elusive and embedded significance of the Grail in popular consciousness - as myth, medieval romance, holy relic and finally as the central feature of a worldwide coded conspiracy, stretching back to the dawn of civilization. Her book will enthral those who, like Sir Percival, seek to unlock the mysterious secrets of western mythology s most extraordinary and tantalising enigma. Bookseller Inventory # AA79781845113605

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Book Description I.B.Tauris Co. Ltd., United Kingdom, 2008. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is the secret of the Grail? So intoned a heavenly voice to Sir Percival in John Boorman s stylish and influential film Excalibur (1981). The sacred allure of the Holy Grail has fascinated writers and ensnared knights for over a thousand years. From Malory to Monty Python, the eternal chalice - said to be the very cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper - has the richest associations of any icon in British myth. Many different meanings have been devised for the Grail, which has been linked to King Arthur, ancient mystery religions, Jungian archetypes, dualist heresies, Templar treasure and even the alleged descendants of Christ himself and Mary Magdalene. Juliette Wood here reveals the elusive and embedded significance of the Grail in popular consciousness - as myth, medieval romance, holy relic and finally as the central feature of a worldwide coded conspiracy, stretching back to the dawn of civilization. Her book will enthral those who, like Sir Percival, seek to unlock the mysterious secrets of western mythology s most extraordinary and tantalising enigma. Bookseller Inventory # AA79781845113605

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