The Genesis of Wagner's Opera Parsifal
r. Wolfgang Golther is best known to those with an interest in the life and works of Richard Wagner as the editor
of the correspondence between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonk, including the so-called Venice Diary. Subsequently Dr. Golther published
two books in which he surveyed Wagner's sources and related literature. One of these concerns the legend of Tristan and
Isolde, the other concerns the legend of Parsifal and the Grail: Parzival und der Gral in der Dichtung des Mittelalters und der
Neuzeit. The following short extract has been translated from the chapter headed "Richard Wagner's Parsifal". When reading Dr. Golther's attempts to
reconstruct the lost 1857 sketch of Parsifal the reader should keep in mind that, although plausible and informed, it is no more than guesswork.
Left: Marienbad seen from the Cross Well, drawn in 1843. Wagner visited this spa in 1845.
n July 1845 Wagner took a cure at the Marienbad Spa, where he read poems by Wolfram in
the editions of Simrock (1842) and San Marte (1836), also the poem Lohengrin in that of Görres (1813) with its confused but rich introduction.
deep woodlands, lying beside the brook, I conversed with Titurel and Parzival in the strange and nevertheless so intimately homely poems of Wolfram. From this encounter first came the
son of Parzival, Lohengrin, who was sent by the Grail:
In fernem Land, unnahbar euren Schritten,
liegt eine Burg, die Montsalvat genannt;
ein lichter Tempel stehet dort inmitten,
so kostbar, als auf Erden nichts bekannt;
drin ein Gefäss von wundertät'gem Segen
wird dort als höchstes Heiligtum bewacht:
Es ward, dass sein der Menschen reinste
herab von einer Engelschar gebracht;
alljährlich naht vom Himmel eine Taube,
um neu zu stärken seine Wunderkraft:
Es heisst der Gral, und selig reinster Glaube
erteilt durch ihn sich seiner Ritterschaft.
In distant land, untrod by mortal footsteps,
there stands a castle, Montsalvat by name;
in its midst, there stands a shining temple
so glorious that none on earth can compare.
Within, a vessel of wondrous power
is guarded as the holiest of treasures:
so it might be tended by the purest of men,
a host of angels brought it to this earth.
Once every year a dove descends from Heaven
to strengthen anew its wondrous power:
'tis called the Grail, and blessing of purest faith
it does confer on its devoted knights.
Left: Titurel Receives the Grail and Spear,
oil painting by Franz Stassen.
he prelude to his Lohengrin, entitled the holy Grail, describes -- according to Wagner's own
program note written for the Zurich music festival of 18 May 1853 and later published in volume 5 of the Gesammelte Schriften1-- the Grail borne aloft by a host of angels. The divine vessel is revealed with increasing clarity to the senses of the
onlookers as it approaches the earth. The angelic host ascends again and disappears in the bright light of the blue ether from whence it came. But the Grail remains behind in the care of the purest humans, into whose hearts its contents have been poured.
n his autobiography Wagner relates, how in the autumn of 1854 he was uncertain about how to make further use of
I wove into the last act an episode I later did not use: this was a visit by Parzival, wandering
in search of the Grail, to Tristan's sickbed. Hans von Wolzogen supplements these remarks by the following report, published in the
Bayreuther Blätter of 1886, page 73:
Parzival searching for the Grail was to appear at Kareol as a pilgrim, while Tristan lies there on his deathbed, in the depths of despair and love's suffering. So the one
desiring, who will find salvation through compassion, and the other renouncing, who curses himself in atonement for his guilt and endures love's suffering unto
death, would be seen together. Here death! There new life! It was intended that a melody associated with the wandering Parzival should sound in the ears of the mortally wounded Tristan, as it were the mysteriously faint receding answer to his life-destroying
question about the "Why?" of existence. Out of this melody, it may be said, grew the stage-dedicatory festival-drama.
he pilgrim journey of Parzival is preserved on a sheet of
manuscript, which Richard Wagner sent to Frau Mathilde Wesendonk:
: "Wo find' ich dich, du heil'ger Gral, dich sucht voll Sehnsucht mein Herze".
rom the original draft of the Tristan drama, preserved in a small note book during the years 1854-55,
Hans von Wolzogen quoted this Parzival scene in the Bayreuther Blätter of 1915, page 145:
Third act - Tristan on his sickbed in the palace garden. Battlements to the side. Awaking from sleep
he calls out to the squire, who is keeping watch on the battlements, asking whether he sees anything. There is nothing to be seen. At his call he comes
finally. Reproaches - apology. A pilgrim had to be received. There and then. Tristan's impatience. The squire still sees nothing. Tristan considers. Doubts.
Singing receding from below. Who is it? Squire tells of the pilgrim - Parzival. Deep impression. Love and
agony. My mother died, when she bore me; now I live, born to die. Why so? - Parzival's refrain - repeated by
the shepherd - the whole world nothing but unsatisfied longing! How is it to be stilled? - Parzival's
Right: In the deep woodlands, lying beside the brook... This brook runs through Marienbad.
he autobiography tells how the first draft of an independent Parzival-drama came into the world:
Beautiful spring weather now set in; on Good Friday I awoke to find the sun
shining brightly into this house for the first time; the little garden was blooming and the birds singing, and at last I could sit out on the parapeted terrace
of the little dwelling and enjoy the longed-for tranquillity that seemed so fraught with promise. Filled with this sentiment, I suddenly said to myself that
this was Good Friday and recalled how meaningful this had seemed to me in Wolfram's Parzival. Ever
since that stay in Marienbad, where I had conceived Die Meistersinger and Lohengrin, I had not taken another look at that poem; now its
ideality came to me in overwhelming form, and from the idea of Good Friday I quickly sketched out an entire drama in three acts.
Left: The little dwelling; the "Asyl".
ans von Wolzogen again supplements this report from Wagner's verbal account in the Bayreuther Blätter of
1885, page 48:
A wonderful morning was ascended over lake and mountains of Zürich and its surroundings. The Master
looked down from the heights of his newly-won, tranquil "Asyl" into the sunny charms of the spring morning:
You are not to carry weapons on the day, when
our Lord died on the cross!, he seemed to hear as if from angel tongues in the great peace of this solemn world. It was a far distant voice, a Grail sound resounding from the days of his Lohengrin, a slowly fading memory from the time, when he once had communed, in the
Bohemian forest, with Wolfram's poem of Parzival. Before him the picture of the Crucified floated; and, quietly putting
aside the armour of philosophically-clarified world-criticism and the weapon of historically- sharpened world-denial, he sketched the poem of his
he report does not, in fact, agree with the historical data: the Wagners only moved into the "Asyl" on 29 April
1857, while Good Friday fell in 1857 on 10 April, before Wagner had stayed in the "Asyl". The whole account points however to a deeply
internal experience, which stuck indelibly in his memory, even if the incidental circumstances became confused.
, riding proud, armed and finely-dressed, meets the grey pilgrim-knight on Good Friday, in this
painting from Ludwig
's castle of Neuschwanstein.
o what did this Zürich draft of Parzival look like, this sketch which was written down immediately? We
may assume2 with some certainty that, in the main, it closely followed Wolfram. Also that many motives,
which were added from other sources and from renewed study of the source material, were first introduced in later versions. First, following Book 9 of Wolfram's Parzival, Wagner would have sketched the third act: the stay in the forest cell of Trevrizent is the core and crux of Wolfram's whole poem. In accordance with his own experience however this was located
in a charming spring landscape, the shining, flowery meadows of Wagner's drama, instead of the harsh, wintry landscape described in the romance. The grey
pilgrim-knight who reprimands Parzival for riding proud, armed and finely-dressed on Good
Friday, became merged with the hermit Trevrizent. Since the Good Friday magic is
the starting point of the whole drama and therefore from the outset would have been recorded in detail, it probably appeared already in the Zürich draft in words
which essentially agree with the final poem, perhaps similar to these appearing in the Munich  Prose Draft:
You see it is not so: today all animal creation is glad to gaze up at the Redeemer. Not being able
to see Him on the Cross, it gazes up at man redeemed: who, through God's loving sacrifice, has a feeling of holiness and
purity; the meadow flowers notice that man does not trample them today, but, as God took pity on
mankind, spares them: now all that is blooming and soon to die, gives thanks; it is Nature's day of innocence.
undry, as the penitent Magdalen, has her model in Wolfram at the beginning of Book 9 in the anchoress Sigune, whom Parzival visits first. The Zürich draft probably brough together Sigune (i.e. Kundry), the grey pilgrim-knight, Trevrizent (i.e. Gurnemanz) and Parzival in one scene, at the hermit cell, and led from there with omission of the
events which intervene in Wolfram's poem directly to the Grail castle and the healing of Amfortas. The Holy Spear, the Christ-lance, which first appears only in a note following the
Munich Prose Draft of 1865, was missing from the Zürich draft. Perhaps the healing was effected as in Wolfram, by Parzival asking the compassionate question about the
suffering of the king. So the third act consolidated the action of Wolfram's Book 9 with details from Books 15-16 (appointment of
Parzival to the office of king and introduction into the Grail castle) to produce an
impressive dramatic account in two scenes.
he Grail, which already appears in Lohengrin as a
vessel of wondrous
power, was interpreted by Wagner in accordance with the French romances, whose contents had been communicated by Simrock and San Marte, as the chalice of the
Last Supper, in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of the Saviour at the cross, not as Wolfram's magic stone. From the outset the Master went beyond and around Wolfram for the sake of
clarity and descriptiveness. By concentrating on that which he found to be significant and important, and by leaving out the wonderful extravagances of Wolfram's imagination, Wagner achieved a poetic form that was concise and strong.
he simplifications of the third act affected the first act (corresponding to Wolfram's
Book 5), the first visit by Parzival to the Grail castle. Here
too the act was divided into two main scenes: the first based around Amfortas taking a soothing bath in the holy
lake (not fishing as in Wolfram! see Parzival 491, 6)3 and with the Grail
ceremony in the temple. With the view of the Grail as a vessel containing the holy blood, the solemn ceremony was given a chalice as in a
church service. The old squire (Gurnemanz, who had merged with the hermit Trevrizent of the third act into one character), Amfortas and the
marvellously wild Grail
messenger carried the action. The Grail messenger was present, cowering in a corner, in the painful scene with Amfortas and stared
with a strangely inquisitive look, sphinx-like at Parzival. The compression to the drama prevented a direct representation of the forest life of the young Parzival (Wolfram's Book 3), particularly since the young Siegfried already contained such a picture on the beauty of
which Wagner could scarcely improve. In the drama Parzival enters the domain of the Grail
as a fool, in the epic as a knight. He plays the fool with Wolfram earlier, at the court of King Arthur. In the drama effective
contrasts resulted from this compression: the fool in the first act, the knight in the third act. Particular scenes from Parzival's youth , e.g. the meeting in the forest of the boy with the "shining men", the knights, are introduced into his first act dialogue with
the old squire.
or the second act Wagner diverged more freely from Wolfram, choosing as the scene of
the action the magic castle of Klingsor with the seductive woman, contents of Wolfram's
books 10-13. The adventures of Gawain were transferred to Parzival
and thus a contrast, unknown to Wolfram, was established between the Grail castle and Klingsor's castle of wonders. In Wolfram the centre of the action here is the beautiful
Orgeluse, whose charms no knight (with the single exception of Parzival) can resist,
in whose service Anfortas is wounded by the poisoned spear. Originally Wagner's Zürich draft kept distinct the
three women described by Wolfram: the wild Grail messenger (Kundry) in the first act, Orgeluse in the second act, Sigune in third act. Only in the letters
to Mathilde Wesendonk of 2 March 1859 and 1 August 1860 does Kundry become the
world-demonic woman. The rebirth teachings that Wagner addressed in the Buddha-drama that he sketched in 1856 had an influence on the later development, although certainly not during the early development, of the
Kundry figure. Another idea came from Wolfram, in which (318, 24)4 the Grail messenger Kundry appears again in the magic castle, where
another Kundry, the beautiful sister of Gawain (334, 20)5 is held captive. In Wolfram's poem however these characters have nothing in common except the name. Thus one discovers some threads which lead from scattered
places in Wolfram's poem to the drama, which were hardly present in the Zürich draft but which occurred to Wagner when he returned to
the poem. Thus e.g. Kundry's call to Parsifal in the second act originates from a meeting of the fool with his
cousin Sigune (140, 16)6 in which she reveals the name that he had forgotten, and her curse on him from the
Grail messenger's curse in Book 6 (315, 20)7.
few images from Wolfram's poem stuck in Wagner's memory, from which be was able to
outline immediately the
entire drama in three acts on the "Good Friday" in 1857. How reliably Wagner's memory held after several
years is shown by the letter to Uhlig of November 1851, where Wagner had asked for the Völsungasaga from the Dresden library in order to complete the
poem of the Valkyrie but almost immediately recognized that he did not need this source after all. Just as little as he needed the Marienbad draft of
1845, which Frau Wesendonk sent him on 25 December 1861 to Paris, to complete the poem of the Meistersinger. With amazing fidelity he recalled the
contents of Wolfram's Parzival, in order to compress that content, in the mysterious instant of poetic conception, into
three climactic situations of violent intensity.
the Parzival-drama in the course of time developed further and changed under completely different
circumstances of work and life, we read in the letters of the years 1858-60 about which basic ideas moved into or out of focus. The Parzival-drama, like Goethe's
Faust, was an ever-present, quietly maturing work, often perhaps only present in thoughts or in marginal notes added to the old draft, until the time
arrived for a new draft. In the letter in the Venice Diary of Richard Wagner of 1 October 1858 we can see that the subject of compassion or fellow-suffering was
inseparably connected with the Parzival-drama from the outset.
I recognize in this compassion [Mitleid] the most salient feature of my moral nature, and
presumably it is this which finds expression in my art. Wagner speaks of his compassion for animals, those who, in contrast to humans, cannot be raised by
their own suffering to the height of resignation:
... their absolute, redemption-less suffering without any higher purpose, their only release being
death, which confirms my belief that it would have been better for them never to have entered upon life. And so, if this suffering can have a purpose, it is
simply to awaken a sense of compassion [des Mitleidens] in man, who thereby absorbs the animal's defective existence, and becomes the redeemer of the world by
recognising the error of all existence. (This meaning will one day become clearer to you from the Good Friday morning scene in the
third act of Parzival.)
chopenhauer had expressed similar thoughts:
boundless compassion with all living natures is the firmest and
surest guarantee of morality... The moral incentive advanced by me as the genuine, is further confirmed by the fact that the animals are also taken under its
protection. In other European systems of morality they are badly provided for, which is most inexcusable... Since compassion for animals is so intimately
associated with goodness of character, it may be confidently asserted that whoever is cruel to animals cannot be a good man... However the quality of the heart
exists in a basic, universal compassion with everything that lives, although firstly with humans.
arsifal in its definitive shape is the tragedy of compassion, the ethical basis of world redemption. In his last
writings, as is well-known, Wagner advocated a religion of compassion. We will have to discuss this idea in the action of the drama in more detail. For the
present it is enough to say that already in the original version, in the Zürich draft of the Parzival-drama, this ethical basic idea would have been clearly and
n the letter to Mathilde Wesendonk of 19 January 1859 we read that Savitri [Prakriti] (in the Indian drama Die Sieger, which was sketched in 1856) and Parzival
fill my mind with a sense of presentiment and strive initially to form themselves into a poetic idea. On
2 March 1859 Wagner writes:
Parzival has occupied me a lot; in particular my own creation, a marvellously
world-demonic woman, becomes ever more alive and definite. If I manage to write this poem, I will have made something very original. And on 23 May he
announced that he had a completely new concept for the Parzival-drama again. The letter of 30 May 1859 continues to develop the thought of Amfortas as the work's center of attention and main subject,
the third act Tristan with an inconceivable
intensification. The mood of the third act of Tristan -
a truly alternating fever, deepest suffering and languishing, and then directly an
outbreak of rejoicing and shouting for joy - moves the suffering Amfortas into the foreground, behind which
Parzival is nearly lost from view. The suffering of Amfortas is
described like this:
With the spear-wound and probably still another too -- in his heart -- the
wretched man knows of no other longing in his terrible pain than the longing to die; in order to attain this supreme solace, he demands repeatedly to be
allowed a glimpse of the Grail in the hope that it might at least close his wounds, for everything else is useless, nothing - nothing
can help him; but the Grail can give him one thing only, which is precisely that he cannot die; its very sight
increases his torments by conferring immortality upon them. The Grail, according to my own interpretation, is the
goblet used at the Last Supper, in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the Saviour's blood on the Cross. What terrible significance the connection between
Anfortas and this particular chalice now acquires; he, infected by the same wound as was dealt
him by a rival's spear in a passionate love-intrigue, -- his only solace lies in the benediction of the blood that once flowed from the Saviour's own, similar,
spear-wound as He languished upon the Cross, world-renouncing, world-redeeming and world-suffering! Blood for blood, wound for wound --
but what a gulf between the blood of the one and that of the other, between the one wound and the other! Wholly enraptured, he is all devotion and all ecstacy
at the miraculous proximity of the chalice which glows red in its gentle, blissful radiance, pouring out new life -- so that death cannot come near him! He
lives, lives anew, and more terribly than ever the sinful wound flares up in him - His wound! His very devotions become a torment! Where is
the end to it, where is redemption? The sufferings of humanity endlessly drawn out! -- Would he, in the madness of his despair, wish to turn away forever from
the Grail and close his eyes to it? He would fain do so in order to die. But -- he himself was appointed Guardian of the Grail; and it was no blind, superficial power which appointed him, -- no! It was because he was so worthy, because there was no one who knew
the Grail's miraculous power as profoundly and as intimately as he knew it, just as his whole soul now years, again and again, to
behold the vision that destroys him in the very act of worship, vouchsafing both heavenly salvation and eternal damnation!
[Concerning the Grail Wagner writes:]
I feel a very real admiration and sense of rapture at this splendid feature of Christian
mythogenesis, which invented the most profound symbol that could ever have been invented as the content of the physical-spiritual kernel of any religion. Who
does not shudder with a sense of the most touching and sublime emotion to hear that this same goblet, from which the Saviour drank as a last farewell to His
disciples and in which the Redeemer's indestructible blood was caught and preserved, still exists, and that he who is pure in heart is destined to behold it
and worship it himself. Incomparable! And then the double significance of this one vessel which also served as a chalice at the Last
Supper, without doubt the most beautiful sacrament of Christian worship! Whence, also, the legend that the Grail (Sang Réal, whence
San(ct) Gral) alone sustains the pious knights, vouchsafing them food and drink for their repasts.
Concerning Parzival Wagner writes in the same letter:
And then there is a further difficulty with Parzival. He is indispensably necessary as the redeemer for whom Anfortas longs: but if
Anfortas is to be placed in his true and appropriate light, he will become of such immense tragic
interest that it will be almost impossible to introduce a second focus of attention, and yet this focus of attention must centre upon Parzival if the latter is not simply to enter at the end as a deus ex machina who leaves us completely
cold. Thus Parzival's development and the profound sublimity of his purification, although entirely
predestined by his thoughtful and deeply compassionate nature, must again be brought into the foreground. But I cannot choose to work on such a broad
scale as Wolfram was able to do: I have to compress everything into three climactic situations of violent intensity, so that
the work's profound and ramified content emerges clearly and distinctly; for my art consists in working and representing things in this way.
Above: A memorial bust of Richard Wagner, in Venice.
he letter of 1 August 1860 describes the origin of the Kundry-figure in its mysterious transformations, which were animated by the Buddha-drama and the rebirth teachings connected with it:
Parzival has again been stirring within me a good deal; I can see more and more in it, and
with ever-increasing clarity; one day, when everything has matured within me, it will be an unprecedented pleasure to complete this poem. But many a long year
may pass before then! And I should like to be satisfied for once with the poem alone. I shall keep my distance from it as long as I can, and occupy myself with
it only when it forces itself upon my attention. This strange creative process will then allow me to forget just how wretched I am.- Shall I prattle
on about this? Did I not tell you once before that the fabulously wild messenger of the Grail is to be one
and the same person as the enchantress of the second act. Since this dawned on me, almost everything else about the subject has become clear to me. This
strangely horrifying creature who, slave-like, serves the Knights of the Grail with untiring eagerness, who carries out the
most unheard-of tasks, and who lies in a corner waiting only until such time as she is given some unusual and arduous task to perform - and who at times
disappears completely, no one knows how or where?- Then all at once we meet her again, fearfully tired, wretched, pale and an object of horror; but once again
untiring in serving the Holy Grail with dog-like devotion, while all the time revealing a secret contempt for its knights; her eye
seems always to be seeking the right one,- and she has already deceived herself once - but did not find him. But not even she herself knows what she is
searching for: it is purely instinctive.-
Then Parzival, the foolish lad, arrives in the land,
she cannot avert her eyes from him; strange are the things that must go on inside her; she does not know it, but she clings to him. He is appalled - but he,
too, feels drawn to her; he understands nothing. (Here it is a question of the poet having to invent everything!) Only the matter of execution can say anything
here! - But you can gain an idea of what I mean if you listen to the way that Brünnhilde listened to Wotan. - This woman suffers unspeakable restlessness and
excitement; the old esquire had noticed this on previous occasions, each time that she had shortly afterwards disappeared. This time she is in the tensest
possible state. What is going on inside her? Is she appalled at the thought of renewed flight, does she long to be freed from it? Does she hope - for an end to
it all? What hopes does she have of Parzival? Clearly she attaches unprecedented importance to him! - But all
is gloomy and vague; no knowledge, only instinct and dusky twilight?- Cowering in a corner, she witnesses Anfortas's agonized scene; she gazes with a strangely inquisitive look (sphinx-like) at Parzival. He, too, is - stupid, understands nothing, stares in amazement - says nothing. He is driven out. The messenger of the Grail sinks to the ground with a shriek; she then disappears. (She is forced to wander again.) Now
can you guess who this wonderfully enchanting woman is, whom Parzifal [sic] finds in the strange castle where
his chivalrous spirit leads him? Guess what happens here and how it all turns out. I shall say no more today!-
rom these communications it appears that the scenario of the Zürich draft was already quite developed and that it
had much in common with the later poem, whilst in other elements it stayed closer to Wolfram's Parzival. The three main
figures were [by 1860] already present: Amfortas, Parzival,
Kundry. In the Zürich draft Kundry as Grail
messenger, in the sense that term is used by Wolfram, attends the communion celebration already in the first act, at the same time
with Parzival, the stupid one. In the later poem [and in the 1865 Prose Draft] she first (in attendance on
Parzival) enters the temple of the Grail, from which she was excluded as heathen
8 before, only after her baptism in the third act. As an old squire Gurnemanz has already appeared. On the other hand there is still no reference to Klingsor. As
in Wolfram, at this stage it is the spear of a rival in a love-adventure that causes the wound of the Amfortas. The Holy spear, which is the lance with which Longinus wounded the Saviour in the side and which is kept beside the
Grail as a relic, does not yet appear in the story. Between the wound of the king and that of the Saviour, however, a mystical connection
had already been established.
The author then goes on to consider the 1865 Munich Prose Draft. The reader can find a translation here: Prose
A translation into English (or at least an approximation to English) can be found in Wm. Ashton Ellis' edition of the Prose
, volume 3, pages 231-233.
Here Dr. Golther explicitly assumes
that the 1857 draft closely followed Wolfram. He does not present any arguments to
support this assumption. He implicitly assumes
that no other source material (whether of recent acquaintance or, like Wolfram, remembered from his
Dresden years) was influencing Wagner on that spring morning in 1857.
Footnote 3: Parzival
Book 9, verse 491, 6-9:
Footnote 4: Parzival
Brumbâne ist genant ein sê:
dâ treit mann ûf durch süezen luft,
durch sîner sûren wunden gruft.
Brumbane the lake is called:
where he finds fragrant breezes,
to dispel the stench of his wound.
Book 6, verse 318, 16-24:
Footnote 5: Parzival
ich weiz vier küneginne
unt vier hundert juncfrouwen,
die man gerne möhte schouwen.
ze Schastel marveil die sint:
al âventiure ist ein wint,
wan die man dâ bezalen mac,
hôher minne wert bejac.
al hab ich der reise pîn,
ich wil doch hînte drûffe sîn.
I know of four queens
and four hundred maidens,
who are a delight to see.
They dwell in Castle Marvel:
all adventures are in vain,
compared to what one might win there,
a noble prize of highest love.
Although it will be a hard journey,
I intend to be there tonight.
Book 6, verse 334, 16-22:
doch sagter mir vier vrouwen namn,
die dâ krônebære sint.
zwuo sint alt, zwuo sint noch kint.
der heizet einiu Itonjê,
diu ander heizet Cundrîê,
diu dritte heizt Arnîve,
diu vierde Sangîve.
So he named me four ladies,
who are entitled to wear crowns.
Two of them old, two still children.
Of these, one is called Itonje,
the second is named Cundrie,
the third is called Arnive,
the fourth Sangive.
The Cundrie mentioned here is "sweet Cundrie", sister of Gawain, and Itonje is their younger sister. Queen Sangive is their mother. Queen Arnive is the
mother of King Arthur (the equivalent of Malory's Igraine).
Footnote 6: Parzival
Book 3, verse 140, 15-20:
Footnote 7: Parzival
ir rôter munt sprach sunder twâl
«deiswâr du heizest Parzivâl.
der nam ist rehte enmitten durch.
grôz liebe ier solch herzen furch
mit dîner muoter triuwe:
dîn vater liez ir riuwe».
She of the red lips spoke thus:
"You are indeed Parzival.
Your name means pierced-through-middle.
Such great love broke the heart
of your faithful mother:
your father left her sorrow."
Book 6, verse 315, 20-23:
gunêrt sî iwer liehter schîn
und iwer manlîchen lide.
het ich suone oder vride,
diu wærn iu beidiu tiure.
A curse on your fair looks
and on your manly limbs.
Had I peace and joy to give,
you would go begging for them!
An alternative reading is that Kundry
has been excluded from the temple as a
. The temple of the Grail
is a male preserve, in which a community of men guard the feminine symbol of the Grail
, and where masculine values prevail. Parsifal as the Victoriously Perfect
admits the woman and by doing so
restores balance to the community.