History was the first subject I loved at school, and for me it all began with 1066 and then anything to do with knights, men at arms, chainmail and castles. Nevertheless, like another reviewer I was drawn to reading this after years reverencing Wagner's sacred music drama, Parsifal.
I believe Wagner in his efforts at self promotion spoke quite dismissively of Eschenbach's massive poem, and at the present moment (more than halfway throught the text) I am fighting the urge to skip whole chapters. One thing which is bothersome is the array of over elaborate names. For example, Condwiramurs (a woman) / Brandelidelin (male) and what about Schionatulander? Add on a patronymic in French and certain technical words for armour and drapery and so forth and one begins to wish one had taken a short course before embarking on this book.
Then there's the seeming randomness of knightly adventuring, the lengthy praise of costumes and upholstery, the routine of duelling and submission leading to apparent slavery at the court of some noble lady. I always thought the idea was the lady was unattainable but these princesses seem quite available to whichever handsome fellow stays in the saddle after a long day's jousting. After which, the knight tends to disappear in search of adventure, leaving a miserable lady behind, and this is quite normal.
One wonders about all the common folk left out of the picture, breaking their backs to prepare the feasts and shoe the horses. I wonder what they made of all this?
I haven't given up yet and I can't deny that the first page hooked me. But at the mo' it's a bit of a drag and the author's asides and little swipes at fellow poets are starting to vex me. As is Parzival, hard as nails but doesn't know one end from the other.