Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities
2011—2012 Forum on Adaptations
Allegory Effects: The Romance of Redemption, the Redemption of Romance, and the Queste del Sain Graal
The medieval French Arthurian romance La Queste del Saint Graal transforms the tradition of Grail writing by interpolating interpretive ("allegorical") readings of the events it describes into its own plot. Rather than devaluing the historical time of romance narration in favor of theology's timeless truths, however, the Queste's allegoresis foregrounds the contingent nature of meaning necessarily produced in the linked acts of narration and reading (and especially of self-interpretation). The text shows us medieval romance's struggle to appropriate moral, spiritual and historical truth-claims usually reserved for the Bible while avoiding parody by acknowledging the fundamental difference between fiction and revelation and reflecting on the conditions of possibility of Truth's emergence in the narratable—that is, the historical as well as the fictional—world.