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Malory's Grail Seekers and Fifteenth-Century English Hagiography

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Alfred Robert Kraemer

Malory's version of the Grail Quest in The Morte Darthur presents several difficulties for scholars, most important, whether it should be read as a chivalric romance or as a theological treatise like its source, the French Queste. This study looks at a popular fifteenth-century English genre - the saints' lives - and shows that Malory's Grail story reads very much like the saints' lives written by Lydgate, Capgrave, and Bokenham, which satisfied the same readership that Malory enjoyed. As Vinaver observed, Malory's Grail story had «more in common with the lives of saints» than with chivalric romance.