Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Grail Code

Here's the problem with homeschooling:

I keep taking time away from school to learn things.

We're wandering through the Middle Ages this year, and I just finished reading The Grail Code, by Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey.

Last night I stayed up too late to finish wandering around their Grail Code website, which is full of fascinating stuff, such as these links on their Scriptorium page to the texts that are discussed and quoted in the book.

Did you know you can read the old French original of Chretien de Troyes' Lancelot, or, The Knight of the Cart, if you so choose? (Alas, if only I were able to so choose. The only French I remember from high school is "Ou est la salle de bain?" A vital phrase, oui, but limited. But I digress.)

The Scriptorium page alone is worth a look, even if you skip the book. But, don't skip the book -- I learned volumes about the Grail, its origins and its chroniclers.

Their website whet my appetite for more Grail art (don't you dare skip that click -- it's only two pieces of art, and they're worth your clicking efforts) and they'll even tell you How to Pronounce Those Impossible Welsh Names.

I admit that my Grail-Lancelot-Arthur knowledge is fairly limited. I have a passing-to-average acquaintance with Camelot (enough to know that I don't picture Lancelot as Robert Goulet.) I knew about Malory, of course, and we have a few books that I rounded up for the kids this year. I first read T.H. White's The Once and Future King when I was in high school, and loved it dearly.

What The Grail Code offered me, on top of fascinating lore and legend, was an historical look at the rise and fall of the story and the world's enduring fascination with it. The authors' quest takes us through the Grail's sacred beginnings, into periods of secular, cultish appeal, traces why and how those changes happened, and finally, routes us back to what the Grail really means:

What (or Who) is our quest really about? What makes us thirst so, and how is that thirst quenched?

When Anne-with-an-e asked me what I was reading, I gave her a short teaser version, and she said, "Wow ... searching for the cup ... that would make a great story!"

Ahem. Clearly, I've not covered Arthur with her in any depth. And she's never seen the Indiana Jones movie, either.

I might just hand her The Grail Code and let her know that her quest is about to begin.


Melissa Wiley said...

Of all the funny, endearing, charming moments you have shared on this blog, "That would make a great story" just may be my very favorite ever. Priceless.

I love your kids!!

Alice Gunther said...

Just to show how sincere Lissa is, she called me specially to tell me this story, hoping to catch me before I read it myself!

I have to agree with her--it's a classic! Your kids are so smart, funny, and endearing. I love them.

Jennifer said...

What can I do but agree with Lissa and Alice? Terrific moment!

Rebecca said...

That sounds like an interesting read...I'll have to go explore the website. We had a similar rabbit trail occur while we were reading Andrew Lang's King Arthur this year; the kids asked if there really was a Holy Grail. So I googled it and (maybe your book tells about this) learned that there is in fact a relic in Valencia Spain which has been acknowledged by the Church as the Cup of Christ. That lead me to the book St. Laurence and the Holy Grail by Janice Bennett, which details the life of St. Laurence, the history of the Grail and how it came to Spain, examines its archaeological evidence, and traces its ties to Arthurian legend. It also has lots of photographs. A bit dry reading, but interesting material.