Parzival: A Romance of the Middle Ages
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Parzival: A Romance of the Middle Ages

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,596 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Parzival, an Arthurian romance completed by Wolfram von Eschenbach in the first years of the thirteenth century, is one of the foremost works of German literature and a classic that can stand with the great masterpieces of the world. The most important aspects of human existence, worldly and spiritual, are presented in strikingly modern terms against the panorama of battle...more
Paperback, 445 pages
Published March 12th 1961 by Vintage Books (first published 1215)
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Allison
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
Jason
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...more
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
Nikki
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...more
Lada
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...more
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
Adrian Colesberry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda
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."
Nico
All-time favourite knight tale of the Middle Ages! You need to read the original medieval text to enjoy it fully.
Felicia
Great story, just hard to decipher at times.
Richard
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
Matthew
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
Bruce
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...more
Stella
I've read this book in German and was really surprised by it. It has become one of my favourite medieval tales ever, I enjoyed it so much that I'm thinking of rereading it soon.

The writing style is beautiful and poetic, the plot itself is funny and filled with some wisdom.

If someone asked me about a good book of the Middle Ages, than "Parzival" is certainly one I'd suggest to try out.
Miranda
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....more
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...more
Beth
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...more
Robin
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
Erik Graff
Mar 23, 2008 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in grail literature
Recommended to Erik by: Janny M. Willis
Shelves: literature
Most persons know the literary sources of the grail legends from Malory's Death of Arthur, a very late, derivative source and, unless edited for modern readers, not very readable. For the early material, look into Chretien's uncompleted Perceval and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. Chretien is short, sometimes even funny. Wolfram's is much longer, covering much more material and probably difficult in a translation which attempts to closely follow the poetic form of the original. Happily, this...more
Daniel
Kind of a tedious read...I think Monty Python has ruined for chivalry stories for me because every time one of the characters tries to do something "knightly" or "heroic" it just seems really ridiculous. I get this crazy mental image of a sallow and acne ridden Wolfram von Eschenbach huddled over a candle in some dungeon vicariously living out his nerdy fantasies by scribbling about the heroic exploits and/or tragic love affairs of his rather wooden and one dimensional characters. Medieval Dunge...more
George Mills
This master piece of medieval literature is one of the greatest Grail stories and much of the mythology of the Holy Grail that one finds in today's popular writing comes from this epic. The story may seem to be slow going at first, but it will begin to work its magic and, without knowing when or how, you will find yourself living Parzival's journey. Unlike today's popular fiction and 'nonfiction' about the Grail, if you learn the lessons Parzival learns, this journey will lead you directly to th...more
Quappe
Ein-Satz-Review

Ein falsch programmierter Roboter sieht einen wundersamen, alkoholvergiessenden Stein, stellt eine ominöse, bis zum Ende nie geklärte und auch nie gestellte Frage nicht, wird von einem Tarantino-ähnlichen Erzähler durch Kämpfe und Wunder gejagt, von verschiedenen Lehrern umprogrammiert, sagt Gott den Dienst erst ab, dann zu und findet mit seinem schwarz-weiss gefleckten Halbbruder aus Afrika schliesslich die grosse Versöhnung auf einer unauffindbaren Burg.
Michael
One of the best of the Middle Age romances. This is a more humane treatment than we usually get: the jousting and swordplay do not usually end in death but in sworn allegiance of loyalty for the defeated knight to the victor. This story is primarily about Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail. I especially liked the authorial asides directly to the reader. This made the tale more modern than most and was a welcome light relief from the sometimes ponderous proceedings.
Murray
May 01, 2009 Murray rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of spiritual psychology and mythology
An extraordinary book: it is not an easy read as it was composed in Medieval times and was really meant for an oral tradition. Yet this book, I believe, was designed by its author, to embody certain spiritual truths that perhaps were not easy to express in the Catholic hegemony of the time. It is, in its own way, the tale of the spiritual journey of the Soul, from foolish innocence to true (therefore spiritual) knowledge, as symbolised by the Grail.
tysephine
I read this for my junior English class. I remember my teacher got very into all the imagery and went deep, deep into the backstory of King Arthur and who he might have been. At the time I wasn't very into it, but I think I internalized it and it spawned my love of classic Arthurian stories, as well as modern takes on the legends. So, basically Parzival is where it all began for me. This isn't the best of Arthurian legends, but I owe it a lot.
Allan
You know what you’re in for reading a 13th Century courtly epic written originally in verse. Yet for all 400 pages of florid language, Parzival is action-packed, full of vivid imagery, searing emotion and profound spiritual wisdom. Hatto’s translation is deft (by which I mean I found it smooth to read, so I presume his fluency in Middle High German), and his preface and afterword are interesting and insightful.
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The Original Text of Parsival 3 13 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
More about Wolfram von Eschenbach...
Parzival & Titurel Willehalm Parzival: Band 1 Parzival 2 Titurel

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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
“Alas that he did not ask the question then! I still sorrow for him on that account. For when the sword was put into his hand, it was a sign to him that he should ask. And I pity too his sweet host whom God's displeasure does not spare and who could have been freed from it by a question.” 0 likes
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