Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Grail Code: Quest for the Real Presence

One of my favorite books this year, Grail Code is the thoughtful answer to a question that has been on my mind for years, well before Dan Brown unleashed the merchandising behemoth that The Da Vinci Code became: namely, what is the core of the Arthur/Grail stories, and how do we understand the relationship of these stories to Christian culture? Mike Aquilina and Chris Bailey have done a bang-up job with this book. It's fun, with mock arthurian stylings in its chapter heads and allusions to such popular treatments as the 1981 John Boorman film Excalibur and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Aquilina and Bailey highlight the changing contours of the legends in the hands of men like Chretien de Troyes, Walter Map, Sir Thomas Malory, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. They've turned the history of these romances into an engaging intellectual romance. Christian theology, British history, romance and adultery, this is a wide-ranging, romping read.

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