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Parzival: A Romance of the Middle Ages

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,292 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Parzival, an Arthurian romance completed by Wolfram von Eschenbach in the 1st years of the 13th century, is one of the foremost works of German literature & a classic that can stand with the great masterpieces of the world. The most important aspects of human existence, worldly & spiritual, are presented in strikingly modern terms against the panorama of battles &a ...more
Paperback, 499 pages
Published March 12th 1961 by Vintage Books (NY) (first published 1215)
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Jul 16, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it
Another reviewer for this book wrote, "The more you put into Parzival, the more you get out." And I couldn't agree more. Waldorf students are all required to read this book in 11th Grade, and the comments from the students about the block and the book are quite mixed...although most are negative. This is a very dense and antiquated book, and to read it without a curriculum would take perseverance. However, once I broke into it, I began to enjoy it immensely. It's really just an Arthurian tale, b ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival is one of those stories where the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I just want to preface this review by saying that any review of this book will be lacking, as the allusions, subtexts and connections made by Wolfram are truly astounding. This really is one of those books where each re-reading will bring out new ideas worth exploring further. My focus here will be relegated to one area that particularly struck me on my first reading.

Parzival, am
Elizabeth LaPrelle
This book is so beautiful. Don't bother if you don't want to wade through a bunch of medieval weirdness (what do they have against the Welsh? And is everybody that's ugly REALLY going to be evil, all the time?). But then again that's part of the fun. It's hard to tell how much of this is crazy worldbuilding by the author, and how much he's actually representative of the values of this time--either way, it makes a cultural thing that's pretty familiar (King Arthur! Britain!) and makes it seem inc ...more
Parzival took me far too long to read for me to really declare that I "liked it". Still, once I resolved to finish it already I got through it quite quickly, and it helps that, as with Chrétien's version of the story of the grail, Gawain has a large part to play.

Hatto's translation is quite readable, though I believe he tried to capture a lot of the original nature of Wolfram's writing, so it's not always straightforward and to the point. The footnotes are very helpful, especially when they indi
Adrian Colesberry
Apr 10, 2009 Adrian Colesberry rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 15, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the names in this thing are horrid to try to sound out (I really just give each character a nick name in my head), the story is well written and very well developed, especially compared to other Authorian Romances. Wolfram tries to give his characters motivation and explores the rationale behind the knights and their quests rather than just saying "it was done because knights did that kind of stuff, serious."
May 01, 2014 Lada rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J'ai sur les genoux mon livre dans l'edition de Penguin, edite par Arthur Thomas Hatto. Le livre m'interesse uniquement comme une continuation et le reflet du travail de Chretien de Troyes, a
qui, Wolfram ,qui a ecrit son livre environ en 1205, ne se refere pas mais a un certain Kyot de Provence dont il a eu le manuscrit. Encore un livre qui n'est pas venu jusqu' a nos jours. L'originalite de l'histoire n'est pas requise au Moyen Age L'important c'est la narration et l'approche dans les faits nar
Jul 23, 2015 Bine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am Anfang hatte ich ja meine argen Probleme mit Parzival, weil ich es als nicht besonders leserfreundlich empfand, jetzt aber, wo ich das große ganze hinter mir habe, finde ich die Konzeption einfach nur klasse und Wolfram von Eschenbach sowieso. Bisher mochte ich ja Gottfried immer sehr, sehr gerne, aber Wolfram mischt da doch sehr gut mit. Im Nachhinein hat Parzival wirklich schrecklich viel zu bieten. Vor allem die Gralsgeschichte habe ich sehr gerne gelesen, sowie alles über Clinschor und Sc ...more

Wolfram von Eschenbach's early 13th century poem (rendered here from the Middle High German into modern English prose) chronicles the events of the title character's life from childhood to knighthood, and of his quest for and attainment of the Grail. Along with two chapters devoted to Parzival's father Gahmuret, and several throughout the middle of the story concerning Gawan, the book is a celebration of knighthood, most likely written from the point of view of one of its practitioners. More abs
Leo (Rahien Sorei)
Classic Arthurian Romance, straightforward and chock-full of the hallmarks of chivalry and knighthood. Wolfram is a entertaining narrator, with quite an evident personality and an immense amount of quirks observed in his prose (yes, he wrote the book even though he says he did not, it's just too much of him written all over it for it not to be a personal work). With a surprising lack of concern for the practice of marriage, adventure and or course, the Holy Grail, it's typical Arthurian lore. Bu ...more
Jun 20, 2016 Elisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dieser Versroman von W. v. Eschenbach ist eines der ganz großen Stücke der mittelalterlichen Literatur.

Die Geschichte handelt von dem Artusritter Parzival, der auszieht, um den Heiligen Gral zu finden.
Es beginnt mit den Abenteuern von Parzivals Vater Gahmuret, der Herzeloyde heiratet. Dann wird Parzival gezeugt. Der Vater begibt sich dann aber wieder auf Abenteuerfahrt und im Kampf stirbt er. Herzeloyde zieht den Jungen im Wald auf um ihn fern von jeglichen Rittertums hält, damit sie ihn nicht
Sep 07, 2015 Katrinka rated it it was ok
FINALLY FINISHED! Not since completing John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory have I felt such a sense of accomplishment–but for entirely different reasons. (Here, the battle was with sheer boredom, and boredom was a tenacious challenger.) ...more
Elliott Bignell
Mar 14, 2016 Elliott Bignell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewing in English for consistency with my stream.

This "Reclam" version of Parzival (English "Percival") is exceedingly slim, containing only a selection of verse from the original. Another prose version we have at home takes up several hundred pages, but this was only about 80 with notes interspersed.

The German verse is very easy to read and tends to draw one in with its rhythm, although the vocabulary is often archaic. Engish-speakers may be surprised to find that Parzifal is an Arthurian Kn
Taline Kuyumjian
Jan 24, 2015 Taline Kuyumjian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this book. I came into reading it by accident - I was just finishing Le Morte de Arthur when I saw Parzival was the Classics Book Club book at Powell's for December. Since it was related I purchased it. One thing led to another and I didn't go to the meeting, but was left with a book I was only semi-interested in.

Here are my struggles with it... I found the narrative indulgent. So much time was spent reiterating how people know each other, talking about jousting and virgins and s
Dec 28, 2015 Maarten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I skipped some chapters about Gawan because I was only interested in Parzival. I loved the wonderful symbolic imagery, for instance the first encounter with the Grail or the drops of blood in the snow. The fact that the author sometimes interrupts his own story - to comment on his writing or to encourage the characters in their adventure -makes for a refreshing reading experience. The overall atmosphere of the book is quite strange and dreamlike, because of the style, the unusual details a ...more
May 14, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Для столь раннего произведения (XII-XIII век вроде бы), "Парцифаль" достаточно логичен, связен и при этом неимоверно огромен. Потрясающе, как это произведение удалось сохранить до наших дней в таком состоянии. Обычно такого рода произведения пестрят несостыковками и пропусками.
Вообще, несостыковок и у фон Эшенбаха немало. География мест непонятна. Король Артур, такое впечатление, мечется по всей Европе. Или это наоборот рыцари со всей Европы рассекают по Альбиону.
Рыцари как матросы - в каждом го
Sep 17, 2012 Nico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-ages
All-time favourite knight tale of the Middle Ages! You need to read the original medieval text to enjoy it fully.
Oct 09, 2011 Felicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, just hard to decipher at times.
Apr 19, 2013 Arthur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! :)
Richard Bartholomew
Arthur Hatto's introduction to his translation of Parzival comes with a warning: "Writing in a dense, sententious and at times consciously gnomic style, Wolfram makes heavy demands on his audiences. As a faithful translator I have in the main passed his demands on to my readers" (12). One minor example of Wolfram's poetic garrulousness can be found on page 385: "Night has rarely fallen without the sun's ushering in the day thereafter, as is its wont. And it was precisely this that happened there ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I like Medieval legends. I think this time period is fascinating. I think the writing was perhaps not my favorite though. The story was good but I think that the translation (while trying to convey some of the poetry of the verse) loses something natural about it. It feels a bit stiff and lilts in some places. I was very very interested in what it had to say about Gawan, this is a character that seems to reoccur in legend in much a different light. I wondered if the son of King lot was indeed fa ...more
Feb 01, 2008 Matthew rated it it was ok
Because of the era in which this book was written I can forgive a lot of its conspicous flaws like Wolfram's pervasive and alarming misogyny, the abundance of irrelevant details he is constantly tossing in that regularly derail the story, and the perplexing attitudes and ideas of every single character. In some ways, each of those issues is exactly what makes the book worth reading, because it puts the reader a little in tune with a fairly unfamiliar epoch in human history. However, the fact tha ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
This turned out to be quite the fascinating little read, with many memorable characters sprinkled throughout. Parzival himself is presented as one of the more interestingly developed of Arthur's knights, as he goes from something of a fool to an experienced, wiser person. His quest for the Grail is a nice reflection of the need to seek for something beyond ourselves, and the need to redeem ourselves for past mistakes.

The only real issue with the work for me is the fact that Gawan (Gawain) shows
Apr 21, 2016 Reuel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolfram's completed the unfinished French version by Chrétien de Troyes around 1200, shortly after the 4th crusade. Details Parzival's many adventures/jousts in search of the Graal (Grail) and Gawan's (Gawain) adventures to free the captives in the Castle of Wonders. Fascinating details of the courtly/knightly virtues and values of the upper class in medieval Europe.
Jan 18, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, and at times difficult, to read an English prose translation of a medieval middle High-German "epic" poem originally composed of rhyming couplets.

Nonetheless, the richness of the grail narrative and chivalric, courtly love remains with a good dose of medieval God-fearing and redemption, all as centerpiece and plot devices to the Parzival's journey.

Not knowing much about political geography or place names of that time period, however, I would have benefitted from a map or key, a
Dec 16, 2013 Miranda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a classic. If you're interested in medieval history, read it. If you're interested in the courtly love tradition, read it. If you're interested in the day to day lives of knights, read it.

One thing to know going in is that the author, Wolfram, was a knight himself. He likes to mention that he is not a writer, but a rider. Haha. Some of his choices in the way the book was written are questionable...lets just say that if you're not the patient type, this might not be the book for you.
Stephanie Ricker
I’m reading Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach (I guess I don’t believe in light reading these days?), translated from Middle High German because I sadly do not speak that. Written in the early 1200s or thereabouts, it’s loosely based on the Story of the Grail by Chretien de Troyes, but with a lot more sass. Wolfram had some serious attitude, and he’s pretty hilarious, as Middle High German poets go.

Update: Still ambling through Wolfram von Eschenbach. I really love this guy, though. Fantastic n
Dec 18, 2007 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I had the opportunity to read this in a 10 week storytelling class in the mid-'80s. I have re-read it since then and am thinking of picking it up again. It is the epitome of the Parzival legend. I absolutely LOVE this book. It is from the oral tradition and begins:

"If inconstancy is the heart's neighbor, the soul will not fail to find it bitter. Blame and praise alike befall when a dauntless man's spirit is black and white mixed like the magpie's plumage. Yet he may see blessedness after all, f
This was a refreshing change from the French Arthurian/Grail stories. Parzival was a very human character who struggled with bitterness toward God and this ongoing quest that took him away from his wife. Arthur was also a more rounded character than in Chretien de Troyes where he is more or less wallpaper for the deeds of his knights. Eshenbach makes some pretty funny asides, too. The German names and characters get a little bewildering, but there is a helpful index of names and a great introduc ...more
Nox Prognatus
This book is truly one that you can read different things into it. On the face of it it is lacking in spirituality. When you look deeper, it does mention the Gral, and Templars a lot. And Parzivals obsession with the drops of blood on the snow being hypnotic. Not to mention the seven ladies, being the seven planets. The planets are named also. This is interesting. On the down side, it is hard going in places, and focuses on Gawan (Gawain), ans Parzival (Percival). But as Arthurian legends go, th ...more
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The Original Text of Parsival 3 18 May 28, 2014 09:01AM  
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Wolfram von Eschenbach (c. 1170 – c. 1220) was a German knight and poet, regarded as one of the greatest epic poets of his time. As a Minnesinger, he also wrote lyric poetry.

Little is known of Wolfram's life. There are no historical documents which mention him, and his works are the sole source of evidence. In Parzival he talks of wir Beier ("we Bavarians") and the dialect of his works is East Fra
More about Wolfram von Eschenbach...

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“No, Sir, his manners are such that he would not know how to ask a woman to accept his service, although his looks are of Love's color.” 1 likes
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