The Quest of the Holy Grail Analysis

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Camelot. Castle home of the legendary English king Arthur and the base from which the knights of his Round Table ride out on adventures, including quests for the Holy Grail—the chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper. Camelot’s palace and chapel are separate buildings within the castle walls. There is a courtyard outside the palace, and the upper hall, where the Round Table may be found, is within the palace. A floating stone bearing Galahad’s sword is discovered on the bank of a river running below the castle’s outside wall. Below the castle hill is a town.


Logres. Wasteland where corn does not sprout, trees bear no fruit, and in whose waters fish do not swim. Logres represents a Briton whose sins can be healed only by water from the Holy Grail. On a lonely heath is a stone cross beside which is a block of marble stone. Nearby stands an ancient, abandoned chapel. In the porch is an iron grill through which Lancelot sees an altar covered with silk cloths, illuminated by a silver candlestick bearing six candles. It is from this chapel that Lancelot sees the Holy Grail emerge to heal a knight. Logres also contains the Perilous Forest, in which a spring seethes with giant bubbles.

Median River

Median River. Deep and dangerous stream that flows through the wasteland, dividing it in two, symbolically separating the earthly from the spiritual. When Lancelot reaches the river, he is hemmed in on both sides by steep cliffs.



(The entire section is 639 words.)


(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Nutt, Alfred. Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail. New York: Cooper Square, 1965. Focuses on the Celtic origins of the tale. A good starting text for the serious student.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Holy Grail: The Galahad Quest in the Arthurian Literature. New York: University Books, 1961. Approaches the mystical side of the tale, providing new insight.

Weston, Jessie L. The Quest of the Holy Grail. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1964. This classic on the subject of the Grail was first published in 1913, but remains one of the clearest descriptions of the Grail cycle.

Wilhelm, James J., ed. The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation. New York: Garland, 1994. Critical edition of some of the best translations of early Arthurian literature.