The Discovery of the Grail

Andrew Sinclair, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0604-4
In writing ""the first complete history of the Grail,"" Sinclair (The Sword and the Grail) demonstrates his familiarity with the copious literature about holy relics from the Byzantine Empire to Carl Jung with numerous allusions to religion, myth and history. He writes of the Grail's many manifestations: the chalice of the Last Supper, used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the blood of Christ; the Holy Lance; the Pentecostal tongues of fire; the dish bearing the bloody head of St. John the Baptist; the cornucopia; the philosopher's stone; the Ark of the Covenant. Offering no precise definition, Sinclair is free to trace Grail history with an eclectic choice of holy relics, using ancient chronicles, medieval epics, Celtic Arthurian legends and representations of religious art as source material. He describes the past uses of the relics of the crucifixion, including the perversion of such relics by the Nazis. For Sinclair, the Grail is ultimately ""a symbol of each person's direct approach to the divine light."" In part because his subject is so amorphous, in part because he assumes a vast store of knowledge on rather obscure figures and terms, Sinclair's narrative will be daunting to the general reader. Nor is the writing always elegant (""Himmler enthused about the legends of King Arthur...""). No one, however, can doubt Sinclair's religious fervor and the sincerity of his deeply personal quest. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1998
Release date: 11/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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