The thirteenth-century French Vulgate Cycle is the earliest vernacular text to trace the Arthurian world from the beginning of the Holy Grail at Christ's crucifixion to the death of the kingdom and its king. In this lively and original study, one of the first to treat the Cycle's five texts as a unified work, Miranda Griffin explores notions of chronology and causality within the Cycle, as the text seeks to explain the origins of Arthurian characters, objects and motifs. Informed by psychoanalytic theory, her reading focuses especially on the construction within the Cycle of its three central objects of desire - the book, the body and the Grail - which, Griffin argues, function as focal points for the anxieties about origins voiced by the Cycle's characters and critics.
Miranda Griffin is Fellow in French at Girton College, University of Cambridge.
‘One notable quality of the book is its didactic aspect. Griffin takes time to define and explain precisely the complex notions she uses. She states clearly (sometimes excessively so) what she intends to do, balancing presentation of psychoanalytic concepts and examination of the Vulgate Cycle.’ — Michelle Szkilnik, Speculum January 2006, 193-94
‘If we can judge a book by its cover, Miranda Griffin's study wins top accolades: the blue and red of the cover design mimic precisely the prevalent colors of typical 13th-century Arthurian manuscript decorations, while the cover illustration of king dictating to scribe suggests authenticity and accountability both outside and within. Inside, the text is neatly organized into four cleverly titled chapters - see, for example, chapter 4: "Death, Doubles, and (De)composition - along with an Introduction and Conclusion... Her extraction of appropriate examples from the texts of the Vulgate Cycle and application of psychoanalytic theory to these episodes is surrounded by an ample survey of and response to the critical tradition in Arthurian studies.’ — Joan E. McRae, Encomia 28, 2006, 46-47
‘This is a highly accomplished and subtle analysis of the Vulgate Cycle that manages to negotiate successfully between primary material, the critical debates surrounding that material, and psychoanalytic theory. The difficulty of such an enterprise should not be underestimated. Griffin maintains throughout an impressive command of a large corpus... explanations of the psychoanalytic models she deploys are remarkably lucid, well-informed and to-the-point... New, impeccably researched and exciting perspectives on a highly complex corpus of texts.’ — Emma Campbell, The Medieval Review October 2008
‘This stimulating study springs from its author's observation of the striking parallels between psychoanalytic theories of human desire and the centuries-older Vulgate Cycle's complicated narration of the Arthurian Grail quest... The quest for wholeness that marks the Cycle is also, as Griffin cogently observes, paralleled by our own scholarly pursuit of a unified text and comprehensively coherent reading of this multilayered work - a reading that, perhaps despite its author's own intentions, this study quite effectively achieves.’ — Lisa H. Cooper, Arthuriana 16.4, 2006, 88-89
‘The critical encounter between psychoanalytic theory and medieval French literature has produced several stimulating texts in recent years, and Miranda Griffin's study of the thirteenth-century Vulgate Cycle is a welcome addition to the list.’ — Thomas Hinton, French Studies 62.4, 2008, 464-519
Griffin, Miranda, The Object and the Cause in the Vulgate Cycle (Cambridge: Legenda, 2005)
First footnote reference:35 Miranda Griffin, The Object and the Cause in the Vulgate Cycle (Cambridge: Legenda, 2005), p. 21.