Wolfram von Eschenbach
Lived from around 1170 to around 1220
Parzival was written from 1200-1210. It reworks and extends the unfinished last work of Chrétien de Troyes, the Conte du Graal (1180-90). Parzival’s epic quest for the Holy Grail is a quest for spiritual truth which requires him to attain self-knowledge and to acknowledge his sins before he can become the Grail King. Parzival’s discovery of self and world are interlinked: his world is full of interconnections, but these are only revealed gradually, as the reader accompanies him on his journey. The opening lines stress the importance of patience and faith:
Ist zwîvel herzen nâchgebûr,
daz muoz der sêle werden sûr.
If doubt is neighbour to the heart,
that must go sour on the soul.
[Translation by E.S., although indebted to the translation by Cyril Edwards]
Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzival and Titurel, trans. by Cyril Edwards, intro. by Richard Barber (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)
Cyril Edwards, ‘“Von der zinnen wil ich gen”: Wolfram’s Peevish Watchman’, Modern Language Review 84:2 (1989), 358-66
Arthur Groos, Romancing the Grail: Genre, Science and Quest in Wolfram’s Parzival (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995)
Will Hasty (ed.), A Companion to Wolfram’s ‘Parzival’ (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010)
Debra N. Prager, Orienting the Self: The German Literary Encounter with the Eastern Other (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014), Chapter 1 on Parzival, pp. 29-74
Hugh Sacker, An Introduction to Wolfram’s ‘Parzival’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963)
Stefan Seeber, ‘Medieval Humor? Wolfram’s Parzival and the Concept of the Comic in Middle High German Romances’, Modern Language Review 109:2 (2014), 417-30
The Line-by-line Bibliographical Database of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival for the years 1753-2004, produced by David N. Yeandle at King’s College London, is now freely available online at: