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Parzival and the Stone From Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold For Our Time Hardcover – January 25, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The story line may be familiar, but Clarke does a solid job of bringing to life the world of the Arthurian legends in this retelling of Parzival's quest for the Holy Grail. The story opens with a brief account of the adventures of Parzival's father, a war-happy knight named Gahmuret who forsakes his new bride to go in search of conflict and glory, only to be killed in battle. From there, Clarke shifts to the son's tale, alternating accounts of Parzival's initial encounter with the Grail with the lusty meanderings of Gawain, a knight whose desire for romantic adventures is just as strong as his yearning for battle and recognition. Parzival's first encounter with the Grail throws his family into temporary disgrace and, when a witch curses him for his folly, he must go back and find the Grail a second time to square his accounts with the magic-oriented morality of the medieval world. Clarke, a scholar who provides a lengthy and thoughtful afterword to fill in the blanks for modern readers who are unfamiliar with Arthurian culture, certainly knows his material as well as his audience. But the nature of the story limits him to a wearisome alternation between battle scenes and love conquests, the one intriguing exception being Gawain's adventure in a house of horrors called Castle of Marvels that is controlled by an invisible evil magician named Kilgore. The craft and research that are obvious behind the writing will ensure Clark an audience among aficionados of medieval fiction, but there's nothing compelling enough in this particular retelling to earn him a wider audience.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

Praise for Lindsay Clarke's Chymical Wedding: 'I'm awed by the web you've spun. Not only the beautiful complexities of it but the fine texture of the threads ... Full of wise things' Ted Hughes 'This dazzling novel left me stunned ... a modern masterpiece' Val Hennessy, Daily Mail 'A splendid writer - a stylish, gripping story of alchemy across the ages' Sunday Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons; American ed edition (January 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007134495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007134496
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,169,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ralph J. Bellantoni on April 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Clarke does a praiseworthy job of bringing Wolfram von Eschenbach's complex 13th century epic to life for 21st century readers. He streamlines the story and renders the verse original in prose, but his prose often achieves exalted effects. The story is far from 'a wearisome alternation of battle scenes and love conquests.' It is a richly symbolic tale of the life of the soul and the achieving of real maturity, told through encounters both magical and martial. Parzival's quest for the holy grail--in this instance more of a spiritualized philosopher's stone--enchants and absorbs the reader in a world of portentous marvels. The 1st eight chapters of the book, known collectively as 'The Wounding,' is the more powerful portion of the story. The concluding eight chapters--'The Healing'--is not as convincing in its impact. The solutions achieved are perhaps too overtly Jungian. But there is still great profundity and beauty in the events that unfold and resolve. Clarke's admittedly loose adaptation of Wolfram's masterpiece makes this reader hungry to get a little closer to the original. As I don't think I'll be tackling the 13th century German any time soon, I may give the complete, literal translation by Cyril Edwards (published by Boydell & Brewer) a try next.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the only other retellings of the Parzival legends I've read, "Parzival's Page" and Katherine Paterson's "Parzival." A brief flip-through the book made me think at first that I wouldn't enjoy it, but I did end up liking it. Clarke does a good job of sapping the stiffness from old legends and making it palatable to the modern reader.
The story begins with the story of Gahmuret, who goes off on a Crusade and then returns to Britain, marrying two women along the way -- a Moorish queen and a Welsh queen. He's killed shortly after the birth of his son Parzival, and the shock of his death drives his Welsh widow mad. She secludes herself in the woods with her son, trying to keep him sheltered away from the world that might make him a warrior knight.

Years pass, and Parzival accidently encounters three knights on the road. Immediately he becomes obsessed with being a knight, and despite his mother's protests, he leaves to become one. By training and assistance, he does become a knight and marries the beautiful queen Blanchefleur. But before he arrives at King Arthur's court, Parzival comes to a magical castle where he is expected to ask the king a question. His failure to do so drives him away from God and into a desperate quest for redemption.
Alongside Parzival's quest, we also have the adventures of Sir Gawain, who seems to develop a crush on any mildly pretty lady he comes across. He becomes enamored of a very proud and obnoxious woman, who is entrapped in the dark magic of an evil sorcerer.
This is a nice book. It isn't perfect; with the exception of Gawain and Parzival, the characters are pretty two-dimensional, especially Kei, who is obnoxious for no reason that anyone can really explain.
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Format: Hardcover
The legend of the holy grail is one that has captured the imagination since it first appeared hundreds of years ago. It has been told and retold--as well as parodied by the Monty Python troupe. It is not widely known that in some of the original versions of this tale the grail was a stone rather than a cup!

This version succeeds at being true to the spirit of the original tale--a long mysterious quest where much is lost and much is gained. The ultimate goal according to Jungian theory is the restoration of balance--lost by a culture that overly values prowess particularly in war. Since this is a perennial problem for humanity, this legend maintains its potency.

This writer has managed to vividly convey beauty of the ancient time in which this quest unfolds, as well as the passion and enchantment. An enjoyable fulfilling read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good take on the myth. The author did a good job getting at the important core concepts of the poem.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic story.
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