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Chrétien de Troyes
Little certain is known about the life of Chrétien de Troyes (fl. late XII Century), a French poet whose Arthurian epics were widely translated and contributed to the development of narrative romance. He is thought to have been a member of a poor, knightly family and to have been in service to the courts of Flanders, as a knight, and Champagne, as a poet. Some scholars speculate he was a canon at St-Loup in Troyes. He may have known Latin and seems to have drawn on Celtic legends, Latin literature, and the poetry of his day for his verse. He, in turn, influenced many writers, such as Hartmann von Aue and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Athough Chrétien wrote lyric poetry, he is remembered for his romances with themes of love and character, as well as of breaks and reconciliations.
Le chevalier de la charette (Lancelot) is the first known story of the love between Lancelot and Guinevere, and Perceval, subtitled The Quest for the Grail, is the earliest extant Grail story. The poem is incomplete. Chrétien's other knightly romances include Erec and Enide, Clingès, and Yvain. His Tristan is lost. His epics make the first references to the Round Table. Philomela, an adaptation from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Guillame d'Angleterre, a tale based on the life of St. Eustathius (Eustace), are sometimes attributed to Chrétien.
Karen Rae Keck
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