Arthur Groos here challenges traditional approaches to Wolfram von Eschenbach's quest-romance Parzival (ca. 1210). He offers a new model for reading the text in the light of narrative theory by means of close textual analysis as well as scrupulous investigation of Wolfram's scientific sources.
Taking as his starting point the assertion by the Russian narrative theorist Mikhail Bakhtin that Parzival achieved a pluralism of novelistic discourse generally associated with more recent works, Groos traces several strands of narrative - especially Arthurian and Grail. He focuses on crucial episodes in the hero's quest, ranging from his discovery of knighthood to the healing of the Fisher King, and shows how Wolfram transposes the clerical French perspective of Chretien de Troyes's Li Contes del Graal into the context of chivalric German culture. Examining the variety of language registers and genres incorporated in Parzival, Groos demonstrates that the interaction of chivalric romance, hagiography, dynastic chronicle, and scientific and medical treatise produces a decentered fictional universe in which various religious and secular viewpoints enter into dialogue. In the Grail episodes in particular, Groos finds a narrative universe that both suggests a transcendent teleology and resists ideological closure.