Arthurian and Grail Sources

There are hundreds of works on the Arthurian legend in many different languages, such as Welsh, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Scandinavian (and maybe in some more languages that I have not come across). The main sources in Timeless Myths is French. Others that I have read are English, Welsh and German.

Note that I have only read a fraction of these materials. There are so many titles that it is quite mind-boogling. I do have the more important works, but not all of them.

The main difficulties are finding English translations and money to buy these books. I have very little money, so I can only spent on what's available and what's affordable. Another problem is location. I lived in Melbourne, so it not easy finding translations, here. Even in the library, there are limitation. (Of course, there are books that can be found on the Internet, where they can deliver it to your door. Only one problem with that.... I don't have a credit card.)

I should be noted that I have a separate bibliography page for the Songs of Deeds section, which contained Frankish legends of Charlemagne. So if you wish to look at texts available about Charlemagne, Roland, Guillame of Orange, then go to the Frankish sources.

  Texts
  Other Texts
  References





Texts

 

The following books are translations that I have read. If you were interested in reading these literatures, then I would highly recommend that you read these books. These books are the main sources of information for Timeless Myths.

Most of these books are actually books I have brought over the years. A few books listed here come from books I either borrow or read in the library.



 
Geoffrey of Monmouth

The History of the Kings of Britain
translated by Lewis Thorpe
Penguin Classics, 1966
  * Highly Recommended *

(Also called Historia regum Britanniae or History. This was written in Latin, in 1137. See the Life of King Arthur.)


Vita Merlini
translated by Basil Clarke
Cardiff: UWP, 1973
http://www.geocities.com/branwaedd/merlini.html

(This translation in electronic format and edited by Mary F.E.K. Jones, was extracted from the book titled The Life of Merlin, translated by Basil Clark. It is the only translation that I could get my hand on. The html format came from the website http://www.geocities.com/branwaedd/merlini.html.)



Wace and Layamon

The Life of King Arthur
translated by Judith Weiss & Rosamund Allen,
Everyman, 1997
  * Highly Recommended *

(Wace was an Anglo-Norman, who wrote the Roman de Brut, in French, probably in 1155. While Layamon was an English writer, who wrote the Brut in 1200. See the Life of King Arthur.

Wace adapted Geoffrey's Historia, adding some new detail into it, such as the Fellowship of the Round Table. While Layamon adapted his work from Geoffrey and Wace, providing a more magical side into the legend.)



Chrétien de Troyes

Arthurian Romances
translated by William W. Kibler & Carleton W. Carroll
Penguin Classics, 1991
  * Highly Recommended *

(Containing all five medieval romances by Chretien de Troyes (fl. 1175):

Unfortunately, Chrétien never completed the Grail story.

In the appendix, Kibler had added a summary of several Grail/Perceval Continuations (4 of them). It is quite useful to compare these continuations with other Grail romances, eg. Didot Perceval, Peredur, etc.)



Marie de France

The Lais of Marie de France
by Judith P. Shoaf
http://www.english.ufl.edu/exemplaria/intro.html

(Marie de France was a French poet, who flourished in the 12th century. Marie wrote a number of lais or short narrative songs. There are no medieval literature in Brittany that has survived, but she claimed that she had faithfully translated her sources from Breton singers. The most interesting lais (to us at least) were titled Lanval about Arthur's unfaithful queen, and Chevrefoil ("Honeysuckle") about Tristan and Isolde. This is one book is available at the bookshop, I haven't bought it yet, but you should be able to find the translation (by Judith P. Shoaf) from the webpage mentioned above.)



Robert de Boron

Joseph of Arimathea: A Romance of the Grail
translated by Jeans Rogers
Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971

(The French poet named Robert de Boron, who flourished around 1200, wrote a trilogy about the Grail in verse.

  • Joseph d'Arimathie
  • Merlin
  • Perceval

Joseph of Arimathea is a rather slim book, with only 60 pages.

Though, his Merlin had survived only in fragment, I could not find an English translation so far. There is a prose version, known as the Prose or Vulgate Merlin. As for tale titled Perceval, this work is lost, though we can probably rely on the Didot Perceval, which was written around 1210.)



unknown

The Romance Of Perceval In Prose: A Translation Of The 'E' Manuscript Of The Didot Perceval
translated by D. Skeels
University of Washington Press, 1961.
  * Highly Recommended *

(Phew! Long title for a small book. It is generally called Didot Perceval or Prose Perceval.)




Lancelot-Grail Cycle (Vulgate Cycle)

Lancelot-Grail: The Old French Arthurian Vulgate and Post-Vulgate in Translation (5 volumes)
edited by Norris J. Lacy
Garland Publishing.
  * Highly Recommended *

(The Lancelot-Grail cycle, also called Vulgate Cycle was written by several French writers, between 1225-1237. There are five volumes and it include the Vulgate Cycle:


The Post-Vulgate cycle, which was written in 1240 or later, contained the following tales:

The Post-Vulgate version of the Quest, still have Galahad, Perceval and Bors as the Grail knights, but it has incorporated the heroes Tristan and Palemedes into the Quest. Whereas the Death of King Arthur is a very short narrative than the Vulgate version.)


The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances (8 volumes)
translated by H. Oskar Sommer
Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1916

(This was found in the State Library. There are eight volumes. The last volume was an index. Most of the text was written in French, with some summaries in English written beside text; this was not a full translation. Sommer's version included the works found in Lacy's version, except the Post-Vulgate tale – Merlin Continuation.)


The Quest of the Holy Grail
translated by P. M. Matarasso,
Penguin Classics, 1969
  * Highly Recommended *

(This was translated from the Queste del Saint Graal of the Vulgate Cycle. This was the first Arthurian text that I have read.)


The Death of King Arthur
translated by James Cable,
Penguin Classics, 1971
  * Highly Recommended *

(This was translated from the Mort le Roi Artu of the Vulgate Cycle.)




unknown

Lancelot of the Lake
translated by Corin Corley & Elspeth Kennedy,
World's Classics, 1989
  * Highly Recommended *

(This is the pre-cyclic work (pre-Vulgate) of Lancelot of the Lake, translated from Old French. This doesn't contain the full work. The rest can be found in Elspeth Kennedy's larger work.)



unknown

The High Book of the Grail
translated by Nigel Bryant
D. S. Brewer, 1978
  * Highly Recommended *

(I had finally found this book on the early 13th century Old French Perlesvaus or Le Haut Livre du Graal. This is a new translation compared to the previous translation by Evans that I had listed below.)


The High History of the Grail
translated by Sebastian Evans (1898)
Online Medieval and Classical Library (OMACL), 1996

(Also known as the Perlesvaus or Le Haut Livre du Graal, it is a very large work. I have not read this, though I do have a copy of this from (OMACL). I will read this.... one of these days.)



Wolfram von Eschenbach

Parzival
translated by A. T. Hatto
Penguin Classics, 1980
  * Highly Recommended *

(Parzival was the German version of Perceval. The story is quite different. When I get the chance, I may read this one day.)



Sir Thomas Malory

Le Morte d'Arthur (2 volumes)
translated by Janet Cowen,
Penguin Classics, 1969
  * Highly Recommended *

(Sir Thomas Malory tried to tie all the Arthurian tales together in a single work, called Le Morte d'Arthur, 1469. This edition come from the Caxton printed manuscript, retaining the Middle English style, therefore it was not easy to read. Note that the Caxton referred to the printing publisher. This large work comes in two volumes.)


Le Morte d'Arthur: The Winchester Manuscript
translated by Helen Cooper,
Oxford World's Classics, 1998
  * Highly Recommended *

(This recent edition was based on the Winchester Manuscript. Unlike my copy of the Caxton's edition, this edition has a great index and notes. I favoured Winchester's version, because it was a lot more easier to read. However, I noticed that some parts were omitted so it best to have the two versions available.)



unknown

The Death of King Arthur: Morte Arthure and Le Morte Arthur
translated by Brian Stone
Penguin Classics.

(Two Middle English romances on the death of Arthur (with two unknown authors) can be found in this book.

The alliterative Morte Arthure was written about 1400, and it followed along the same plot as that of Geoffrey of Monmouth's work, because there was no Lancelot's role is small and emphasising the betrayal of Mordred to the fall of Arthur's kingdom.

The stanzaic Le Morte Arthur was written about 1350, followed more like the Vulgate's Mort Artu, where the love of Lancelot and Guinevere was part of the causes of the downfall of Arthur. Malory had used these two works as his sources, along with the French romances.)





 
unknown

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
translated by Brian Stone
Penguin Classics, 1959
  * Highly Recommended *

(A 14th century Middle English romance of Gawain's adventure in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.)



unknown

Three Arthurian Romances: Poems from Medieval France
translated by Ross G. Arthur.
Everyman, 1996.

(This book contained three Arthurian tales: "Caradoc", "The Knight with the Sword" and "The Perilous Graveyard".)



unknown

The Rise of Gawain, Nephew of Arthur
translated by Mildred Leake Day
Garland Publishers, 1984

(Titled De ortu Waluuanii, nepotis Artur in Latin (c. 1250). This story was attributed to Robert de Torigni. It expanded what Geoffrey of Monmouth had briefly mentioned in his Historia, where Gawain was brought up in a Roman court, received his arms and knighthood from the Roman Emperor (Geoffrey say Pope) before Gawain became Arthur's knight. This book was found in the State Library.)



Heinrich von dem Türlin

The Crown: A Tale of Gawain and King Arthur's Court
translated by J. W. Thomas
University of Nebraska Press, 1989

(Yet another Grail romance. Called Diu Krône (Crown) and written in German, around the early 13th century. This is where Gawain is the hero.)



Beroul

The Romance of Tristan
translated by Alan S. Fedrick
Penguin Classics, 1970
  * Highly Recommended *

(This early version of Tristan, written in the mid-twelfth century, was fragmented.)



Thomas

Tristan in Brittany
translated by Dorothy Leigh Sayers
Ernest Benn Ltd, 1929
  * Highly Recommended *

(Another romance on Tristan, written in late twelfth century, also survived in fragmented form. This book was found in the State Library.)



Gottfried von Stassburg

Tristan
translated by A. T. Hatto
Penguin Classics, 1970
  * Highly Recommended *

(German version of the poem on Tristan and Isolde. Gottfried's version was also fragmented; the last few episodes are lost. So to supplement the missing episodes, the translator had included Thomas' Tristan in his book.)



unknown

The Romance of Tristan
translated by Renee L. Curtis
World's Classics, 1989
  * Highly Recommended *

(This version of Tristan romance was commonly known as the Prose Tristan, was written in French about 1240-50. The Prose Tristan became part of the Post-Vulgate romances. The Prose Tristan was the most complete story of Tristan and Isolde (the other early versions are fragmented or lost), but it was less pure to the original story. The Prose Tristan was the version that the most medieval scholars preferred.

However, this translation left out a great deal of Tristan's adventures in Logres, Arthur's kingdom, mainly because the original manuscript is quite large. Which is a little disappointing.)



Aneirin

Y Gododdin : Britain's oldest heroic poem
edited and translated by A.O.H. Jarman
Llandysul, Gomer, c 1988

(This maybe the oldest reference to Arthur in literature. It just one line about Arthur, as being a great warrior.)



unknown

The Black Book of Carmarthen
edited by J. G. Evans

(Translated from 13th century manuscript, called Black Book of Carmarthen. Another book found in the State Library. It contain collection of Welsh poems, dating between the 9th and 11th century, including some poems about Arthur and Myrddin (Merlin).)


The Black Book of Carmarthen
No names of translators were given here.
http://www.geocities.com/branwaedd/bbcindex.html

(Some of the poems found in the Black Book of Carmarthen, can be found in this website.)



unknown

The Mabinogion
translated by Jeffrey Gantz
Penguin Classics, 1976
  * Highly Recommended *

(This is my main source for the Welsh myths. The Mabinogion (c. 1400) comprised of a collection of 11 Welsh tales. The Mabinogion has five Arthurian tales, including Culhwch and Olwen and the three Welsh romances. See the Mabinogion page.)


The Mabinogion
translated by Lady Charlotte Guest
introduction and illustration by Alan Lee
HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
  * Highly Recommended *

(Here is an early English translation by Lady Charlotte Guest. This version has a five Independant Tales (the other translation only had four), which included the story of Taliesin. In this edition of Charlotte's translation, the book contained many beautiful illustrations of Alan Lee, who was the prolific artist of the Celtic myths and Arthurian legend. This book was borrowed from my local library, because it was a little expensive to buy.

Guest's translation can also be found in Legends of Camelot)



Gildas

Works
translated by Giles, J. A.
Medieval Source Book

(Also titled De excidio et conquestu Britanniae ("The Overthrow and Conquest of Britain"), in c AD 590.
This is an electronic text version from Medieval Source Book. I had only read the relevant sections.)



Bede

Ecclesiatical History of the English People
translated by Leo Sherley-Price and D. H. Farmer.
Penguin Classics, 1955

(Also, titled Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, in AD 732. This book contained a few lines about the battle of Mons Badon, mentioning Ambrosius Aurelianus, not Arthur. I did not buy this book, but I did read relevant chapters (15 & 16), while I was in the bookshop.

There is also an electronic copy of this from Medieval Sourcebook, possibly translated by L.C. Jane, divided into a several books.)



Nennius

Historia Brittonum
edited by J. A. Giles (1848)
Medieval Source Book
  * Highly Recommended *

(This was written by Nennius in the 8th century. It has story of Arthur, Vortigern, Ambrosius (Merlin), Hengist and Horset, that influenced Geoffrey of Monmouth's work. This work is an electronic text from Medieval Source Book).



unknown

The Annales Cambriae
translated by James Ingram
(from the book called The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)
From the Internet Medieval Source Book

(The Annales Cambriae or the Annals of Wales just list briefly of events in Wales and Britain. The years of interest to us, is between AD 516 and 580.)



unknown

The Welsh Triads
From Celtic Twilight (Legends of Camelot)
http://camelot.celtic-twilight.com/triads/index.htm
Site compiled by Gordd Cymru

(The Welsh Triads or the Trioedd Ynys Prydein was composed from various dates, and can be found in 4 different manuscripts: Peniarth Manuscript, the White Book of Rhyderrch, the Red Book of Hergest, and also the Black Book of Caermarthon. I have read this from a website called Celtic Twilight (Legends of Camelot). I am not sure who is the translator, but I have listed his website above.)



unknown

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
translated by Rev. James Ingram (London, 1823),
with additional translation of Dr. J.A. Giles
http://anglosaxon.celtic-twilight.com/asc/index.htm
Site compiled by Gordd Cymru

(The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was composed through several centuries by various authors. Of interested is Part 1 (5th-7th century AD), and to a lesser extent Part 2 (2nd half of 7th century AD).)



Caradoc of Llangarfan

The Life of Gildas
translated by Hugh Williams
Internet Medieval Sourcebook

(This biography (composed between c. 1130 and 1150) on St Gildas say that he was a contemporary of to the semi-historical Arthur, however Gildas had never mentioned Arthur in his own work. What is interesting is the part concerning Melvas, had abducted and ravished Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's wife, and the war between the two kings. This another text that can be found in the Medieval Sourcebook)



William of Malmesbury

Chronicle of the Kings of England
translated by Rev. John Sharpe (1815),
edited by J.A. Giles
Celtic Twilight

(Arthur was only mentioned in Book I of the Chronicle, where they found the sepulcher of Walwin (Gawain), in Ros, Wales. There more on Vortigern and Hengist, though this is very brief too. I found this at the website called Celtic Twilight. This translation was excerpted from Chronicle of the Kings of England.)








Other Texts

 

The following works are translations that I have not yet read, but I do suggest that you give these a try.... Well, if you can find them.

There are maybe several reasons why I haven't read these works yet.

  • There is no English translation available yet.
  • The original is either fragmented or damaged, and probably not yet published.
  • It's out of publication (OUT OF PRINT).
  • I couldn't afford it (please, donate?).
  • It was available but I did not want to buy it.

However, if you do happened to find English translation of any of these works (preferably in paperback) that are affordable, please e-mail me the details (title, author, name of the translator, ISBN, and the publisher, etc).



 
Ulrich von Zatzikhoven

Lanzelet (c. 1194)

(A German tale of Lancelot. So far, I haven't found any translation on this book.)



Hartmann von Aue

Erec (1190)

Iwein (1202)

(Two works based on Chretien's romances. The romance Erec has the same title that of it French counterpart, while Iwein is the German version of Yvain or the Knight of the Lion. I could not find these two works anywhere in Australia.)



Eilhart von Oberg

Tristrant und Isalde

(Yet, another German version of the romance of Tristan and Isolde. This version was written in the late 12th century, so it the earliest German version, which was more similar to that of Beroul's version than to Thomas. However, this version is now lost, but it is similar to the 15th century prose version, written by Hans Sachs. Eilhart was responsible for bringing epic of courtly love to the German audiences.)



Wirnt von Grafenberg

Wigalois: The Knight of the Fortune's Wheel
translated by J. W. Thomas

(I haven't been able to find this book.)



Raoul de Houdene?

The Vengeance of Raguidel (or La Vengeance Raguidel)

(I haven't been able to find this book. This was possibly written by Raoul de Houdene.)



 
Jocelyn, a monk of Furness

The Life of Kentigern
translated by Cynthia Whiddon Green
Internet Medieval Sourcebook

(Kentigern, also known as Mungo, was a saint in Strathclyde, Scotland, and died in 604. Kentigern would be a contemporary of Urien Rheged and King Rhydderch, and according to tradition was the king's son and related to Arthur and Lot, through Lot's daughter, Thenaw, Kentigern's mother. Kentigern was also said to have baptised Myrddin (Merlin). I have not read this biography, but this can be found at Medieval Sourcebook.)



Gerald of Wales

The Journey Through Wales / Description of Wales
translated by Lewis Thorpe
Penguin Classics, 1978.

(Gerald or Giraldus Cambrensis (1146-1223) recorded that Arthur and Guinevere was buried at Glastonbury. Glastonbury was thought to be the Isle of Avalon. At that time Glastonbury was an island in a middle of marshland.)



Modern Works

The following works are modern treatment of the Arthurian legend. I have not read any of these (except The Mist of Avalon), because I wanted to stick with medieval works in Timeless Myths. These works are considered to be classics, in their own right, therefore I have decided to list them here, just in case you wanted to read them:


Alfred Tennyson
Idylls of the King (1859)


Edwin Arlington Robinson
Merlin (1917)
Lancelot (1920)
Tristram (1927)


T.H. White
The Once and Future King (1958)


Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Mist of Avalon (1982)








References

 

The following books I have read and used for my researches and general references. These works are probably dictionary, encyclopedia, critical essays or analysis on myths, etc.

Some of these books probably provide history and background to the myths and legend.



 

King Arthur in Legend and History
edited by Richard White
J M Dent, 1997

(This is anthology of various Arthurian texts. Although this does not contain whole translations, it is still useful to read the various extracts. There are too many works that have being quoted to list here.)



 

Holy Bible (Good News Version)
United Bible Societies, 1976

(I used this for mainly finding reference of the cup used in the Last Supper and Joseph of Arimathea.)









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