The Grail Theme in Twentieth-Century Literature Criticism: Major Works - Essay

Paul B. Newman (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Newman, Paul B. “Hemingway's Grail Quest.” University of Kansas City Review 28 (1962): 295-303.

[In the following essay, Newman remarks on the influence of T. S. Eliot and Jessie Weston on Ernest Hemingway, pointing out that Hemingway's writing reflected contemporary concerns over the breakdown of individualism that was often addressed by an interest in and the use of the Holy Grail theme.]

“All of Eliot's poems are perfect,” Hemingway wrote in 1925, “and there are very few of them. He has a very fine talent and he is very careful of it. He never takes chances with it and it is doing very well thank you.”

In the early twenties...

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Linda Ray Pratt (essay date winter 1973)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pratt, Linda Ray. “The Holy Grail: Subversion and Revival of a Tradition in Tennyson and T. S. Eliot.” Victorian Poetry 11, no. 4 (winter 1973): 307-21.

[In the following essay, Pratt compares the use of the Grail myth in Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, contending that both authors have significant differences in the way they view the legend—for Eliot, the Grail is representative of individual salvation, while for Tennyson, the quest for the Grail is an act that deflects man from the responsibilities he must assume in the real world.]

The modern writer's need for myth is acute in a society which lacks...

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Julie M. Johnson (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, Julie M. “The Damsel and Her Knights: The Goddess and the Grail in Conrad's Chance.Conradiana 13, no. 3 (1981): 221-28.

[In the following essay, Johnson studies the parallels between the Grail legend and Joseph Conrad's novel, Chance.]

Joseph Conrad's novel, Chance, is divided into two parts, the first entitled “The Damsel,” the second entitled “The Knight.” These allusions to the chivalric tradition have been understood to be a reference to Captain Anthony's sacrificial, celibate marriage to Flora de Barral, a marriage which embodies the romantic ideal of his father's poetry.1 It also has been argued that the...

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J. Donald Crowley and Sue Mitchell Crowley (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Crowley, J. Donald, and Sue Mitchell Crowley. “Walker Percy's Grail.” In King Arthur Through the Ages, edited by Valerie M. Lagorio and Mildred Leake Day, pp. 255-75. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1990.

[In the following essay, the Crowleys expound on Percy's Christian vision as it is expressed in his fiction and nonfiction, noting that the author often used Arthurian motifs in his writing to embody a Southern code of Stoicism. The critics also point out that despite Percy's theological stance, he did not shy away from using the Grail quest to parody the chivalric code associated with the South.]

In the concept of the Second Coming...

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Theresa O'Connor (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: O'Connor, Theresa. “Demythologizing Nationalism: Joyce's Dialogized Grail Myth.” In Joyce in Context, edited by Vincent J. Cheng and Timothy Martin, pp. 100-21. Cambridge, Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

[In the following essay, O' Connor proposes that throughout Ulysses, James Joyce juxtaposes the quest for regeneration via male sacrifice with a search for regeneration through maternal love.]

Hot fresh blood they prescribe for decline. Blood always needed. Insidious.

(U [Ulysses] 8.729 30)

“For many centuries,” Conor Cruise O'Brien observed in...

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Raymond M. Olderman (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Olderman, Raymond M. “The Grail Knight Arrives: Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” In A Casebook on Ken Kesey's ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,’ edited by George J. Searles, pp. 67-79. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992.

[In the following essay, Olderman examines Ken Kesey's novel as a “brilliant version of our contemporary wasteland and a successful Grail Knight” who frees both the Fisher King and the human spirit in an act of affirmation and release.]

Randle Patrick McMurphy sweeps into the asylum wasteland of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest like April coming to T. S. Eliot's wasteland:...

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D. G. Kehl and Allene Cooper (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kehl, D. G., and Allene Cooper. “Sangria in the Sangreal: The Great Gatsby as Grail Quest.” Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature 47, no. 4 (1993): 203-17.

[In the following essay, Kehl and Cooper explore F. Scott Fitzgerald's fascination with Arthurian myths, focusing on his use of the Grail legend in The Great Gatsby in particular.]

Near the end of Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine, returning to Princeton after his disillusioning sojourn in Atlantic City, concludes that he knows one thing: “If living isn't a seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game” (278). For Fitzgerald, by the time he wrote...

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Barbara Tepa Lupack (essay date winter 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lupack, Barbara Tepa. “F. Scott Fitzgerald's ‘Following of a Grail’.” Arthuriana 4, no. 4 (winter 1994): 324-47.

[In the following essay, Lupack chronicles the inclusion of Arthurian motifs, the wasteland, and the Grail quest in many of F. Scott Fitzgerald's works, remarking that the author's interest in these stories also carried over into his personal life.]

The Arthurian legends appealed not only to T. S. Eliot, Edwin Arlington Robinson, and other American poets of the early twentieth century but also to some of the most prominent American novelists as well. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the great chronicler of the Jazz Age, found special vitality and...

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Charles Moorman (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Moorman, Charles. “T. S. Eliot.” In The Grail: A Casebook, edited by Dhira P. Mahoney, pp. 505-23. New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 2000.

[In the following essay, Moorman analyses T. S. Eliot's literary and philosophical development, specifically his ideas on the creation of literary myths and use of the Grail legend in his poetry. Moorman contends that Eliot's spiritual viewpoint was central to his writing, and in The Waste Land the legend of the grail assumes a position of vital importance because of its connections with images of religious fertility.]

So much has been written about T. S. Eliot's literary and philosophical development that it...

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