Noted for his many novels and medieval historical fictions ( The Death of Robin Hood ), in which time flows through legend and transforms it, British author Vansittart here reveals a rich, even manic imagination and an opulent poetic language. The eponymous Parsifal first emerges from barbarous druid Britain. His Celtic name is Peredur, and he serves the Bear Chief, eventually known as King Arthur. By the Middle Ages, the hero becomes the courtly, Frenchified Perceval who seeks the Grail. The brief last chapter considers the modern German infatuation, notably Wagner's and Hitler's, with Parsifal. At the core of the tale is the silly youth whose mother garbs him as a clown to save him from knightly dangers, and who vacillates between the irksome female principal of the Fate Goddess Kundry, and the raw homosexual seductions of the grinning red-head Gawain. Treated kaleidoscopically to reveal its shifting designs throughout the ages, the Peredur/Perceval/Parsifal story wields a powerful magic. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988 Release date: 08/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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