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Chrétien De Troyes

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Biography

Chrétien de Troyes (French pronunciation: [kʁe.tjɛ̃ də.tʁwa]) (Christian) was a French poet and trouvère who flourished in the late 12th century. Chrétien may have named himself Christian of Troyes in contrast to the Rashi, also of Troyes. Little is known of his life, but he seems to have been from Troyes, or at least intimately connected with it, and between 1160 and 1172 he served at the court of his patroness Marie of France, Countess of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine, perhaps as herald-at-arms (as Gaston Paris speculated). His work on Arthurian subjects represents some of the best regarded of medieval literature. His use of structure, particular in Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, has been seen as a step towards the modern novel.

Chrétien’s works include five major poems in rhyming eight-syllable couplets. Four of these are complete; Erec and Enide (c. 1170); Cligès (c. 1176), and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion and Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, both written simultaneously between 1177 and 1181. Chrétien’s final romance was Perceval, the Story of the Grail, written between 1181 and 1190, but left unfinished, though some scholars have disputed this. It is dedicated to Philip, Count of Flanders, to whom Chrétien may have been attached in his last years. He finished only 9,000 lines of the work, but four successors of varying talents added 54,000 additional lines in what are known as the Four Continuations.

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