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Towards an Edition of Chrétien’s Li Contes del Graal: Hilka vv. 1869-2024 Rupert T. Pickens T HREE IMPORTANT EDITIONS of Chrétien’s Li Contes del Graal are currently in circulation. By far the most highly regarded, the one which carries the most scholarly weight, is Alfons Hilka’s edition first printed in 1932 to complete the monumental series of Chrétien’s texts begun by Wendelin Förster, Kristian von Troyes Sämt­ lichen Werken.' However, the Hilka text presents a number of significant problems: language is “idealized” in an effort to reproduce the “literary Champenois” which Chrétien de Troyes supposedly used; and, even more damaging, Hilka’s turns out, upon examination, to be not the anticipated critical edition in the classic sense of this term,2but rather an edition of the famous Guiot copy which rejects “aberrant” readings in the basic manuscript only when they seem (for reasons that are often unexplained) not attributable to Chrétien de Troyes. Thus, Hilka’s edi­ tion, like the other two most frequently consulted by scholars today, is the text of a single manuscript “edited critically,” although it is charac­ terized by rather liberal emendation from other sources.3 The concept of a “critically edited” text of a single manuscript, as opposed to the classic Lachmannian project of restoring the Lost Original, reflects the methodology of Joseph Bédier, who sought to reproduce for the modern reader the text of the earliest and “best” manuscript.4This is precisely the approach adopted, with minimal refer­ ence to the manuscript tradition in general, by the scholars who pro­ duced the two most readily available editions of Chrétien’sLi Contes del Graal. These are printed in text series designed for students in litera­ ture classes rather than (exclusively) scholars investigating the textual nature of medieval literary works: the edition of T by William Roach5 and that of Guiot’s copy (much less radical in its rejection of manuscript lessons than Hilka’s edition) by Félix Lecoy.6While Roach is certainly the more careful reader of his manuscript, both of the more recent edi­ tions may be accepted as quite good renderings of texts which were accepted in the Middle Ages as meaningful and representative of VOL. XXVII, No. 1 53 L ’E sprit C r é a t e u r Chretien’s original intentions and which are, in fact, as modern scholars generally concur, among the most faithful medieval witnesses to what must have been Chrétien’s Lost Original. The primary advantage of Hilka’s edition over those of his successors is that he includes a rather complete set of variants from all manuscripts known to him. In addition to the three already mentioned, two other editions of Chrétien’s last, incomplete romance are currently being prepared. For one, part of a new British project to produce critical editions (in the classic sense) of all of Chrétien’s works, Keith Busby of the Universities of Utrecht and Leiden, is using T as his basic manuscript. For the other, I am providing a text, in a collaborative project with William W. Kibler of the University of Texas, who is executing a translation into modern English, to be published by the Garland Library of Medieval Literature. One may well ask why any edition of Chrétien’s last romance is needed, since two of the three others (Roach and Lecoy) can be bought in any academic bookstore and the third (Hilka) is housed in any respect­ able research library. To repeat, the three available texts are more or less competent renditions of texts in particular manuscripts. Each of the forthcoming editions, on the other hand, represents a more ambitious enterprise. While I cannot attempt to predict the results of Busby’s project—but his exceptional talents and scholarly standards bode well indeed—I am prepared to discuss at this time the principles guiding my own undertaking. Those who are familiar, at least superficially, with my edition of the Songs of Jaufré Rudel—an edition which consciously seeks a justifica­ tion of modern critical and editorial principles in terms of the theory and practice of medieval poetics—may...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 53-66
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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