This paper examines Chretien de Troyes’ use of the courtly love tradition in The Knight and the Cart to establish a relationship between the senses of sight and touch, which affects memory and consequently the soul. The abduction of Guinevere causes Lancelot to not only suffer through the conventions of courtly love established by Capellanus but to suffer a loss of memory. Lancelot experiences a loss of connection between images of Guinevere housed in his soul which affects his memory of her and his own identity
Chrétien de Troyes’s 12th-century Conte du Graal tells the story of Perceval, whose path to ideal knighthood is plagued by dark questions about his lineage. Michel Foucault’s 1971 essay, Nietzsche, la généalogie, l’histoire, provides a useful tool for navigating the murky waters of this, Chrétien’s final romance. Foucault’s genealogy is not one that meticulously reconstructs family trees. It is a methodology that identifies the places where a finality is altered; where the discreet idea disrupts the ideal; the emergence of a truth from behind its mask. This paper, through Foucault, suggests that genealogy, as an extension of personal and generational memory, can explain the problems and consequences inherent in Perceval’s unconventional parentage.
Yvain’s two-part quest – first for vengeance, marriage, and property, and then for expiation and reintegration – sets him on a circular trajectory around the text and traps him in a series of formal and thematic loops. The hero folds further and further into the world of Chretien’s romance, ensnared and detained by physical, psychological, and structural forces. His sudden memory loss at the midpoint, which leads to the dissolution of his identity and his sanity, together with his self-professed ‘oblie’ at the end, further suggest that the text could simply continue going around in these endless cycles. Only the deus ex machina of Lunete / Chretien’s intervention can bring Le Chevalier au Lion to an end.