Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart

Introduction

Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart (French: Lancelot, le Chevalier de la Charrette) is an Old French poem by Chrétien de Troyes. It is unknown exactly when the poem was composed, only that it would have been between 1175 and 1181 (most likely 1177). It was composed before or at the same time as Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, (Le Chevalier de Lion), the two serving as companion pieces with overlapping narratives. The story is an Arthurian legend, and one of the first to feature Lancelot as a prominent character. The narrative tells about the abduction of Queen Guinevere, and is the first text to feature the love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. While little is known about the life of Chrétien de Troyes, it can be said that his writings impacted the Arthurian canon, establishing Lancelot’s subsequent prominence in English literature. Chrétien was the first writer to deal with the Arthurian themes of the lineage of Lancelot, his relationship to Guinevere, and the idea of courtly love. It is believed that Chrétien did not complete the text himself, eventually disagreeing with the story's heavily featured theme of courtly love.[1]


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