Selection of novels and plays about the Grail

Bradley, Marion Zimmer, The Mists of Avalon (New York 1983)
Feminist myth meets Arthurian romance - a highly successful bestseller with a cameo part for the Grail

Brown, Dan, The Da Vinci Code (New York 2003)
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail rewritten as a novel; a bright idea, but hardly great literature despite its stellar sales ratings

Butts, Mary, Armed with Madness (London and New York 1928, rp London 2001)
A fascinating period piece by an author obsessed by the Grail; enigmatic and entertaining

Calvino, Italo, ‘The Non-Existent Knight’ in Our Ancestors (London 1980, rp 1998)
Calvino, Italo, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (London 1977)

Calvino's take on the high-flown ideas of chivalry and on the nonsense surrounding the Tarot pack is sardonic and witty

Christian, C., Pendragon (London 1979; originally published as The Sword and the Flame, London 1978)
Somewhat routine retelling

Cocteau, Jean, Les chevaliers de la table ronde (Paris 1937)
Cocteau was fascinated by myths, and as expected portrays the protagonists in a very unusual light

Dorst, Tankred, Parzival: Ein Szenarium (Frankfurt am Main 1990)
Ambitious, intellectually challenging, essentially hostile to idealism

Eco, Umberto, Foucault’s Pendulum tr. William Weaver (London 1989)
Read this after you have read The Da Vinci Code - Eco has read all the weird literature, and makes a far greater novel out of it, besides showing you how to fake a Grail conspiracy - 'Only connect'

Eco, Umberto, Baudolino tr. William Weaver (London 2002)
Nothing - including the Grail - is what it seems in this medieval picaresque adventure by a writer who really knows his Middle Ages

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby (London 1950)
An example of one of the many novels that can be read as 'Grail' novels; Fitzgerald does actually refer to the Grail, however.

Hein, Christoph, Die Ritter der Tafelrunde (Frankfurt 1989)
A dramatic satire on the collapse of the Communist regime in East Germany, using Arthur and his knights as symbols of the old order

Hunter, Jim, Perceval or the Presence of God (London & Boston 1978)
A low-key but impressive version of the story, set in a primitive world of warriors

Lodge, David, Small World (London 1984)
The progress of an academic novice in the world of literary criticism make an unlikely but entertaining Grail adventure

Machen, Arthur, The secret glory (London 1922)
A period piece, but with passages of powerful writing, which combines a mystical Welsh grail with picaresque episodes

Mitchison, Naomi, To the Chapel Perilous (London 1955, rp Oakland, CA, 1999)
The idea of a personal grail which is different for each hero wittily combined with anachronistic journalists recording the proceedings

Muschg, Adolf, Der Rote Ritter: eine Geschichte von Parzivâl (Frankfurt am Main 1993)
A huge set of imaginative variations and extensions of the story of Parzival; an extraordinary if unwieldy achievement

Powell, Anthony, The Fisher King (London 1986)
Low key and rather disappointing late work from the hand of an acknowledged master

Powys, John Cowper, A Glastonbury Romance (London 1933, rp 1975)
An ambitious and rumbustious version of the 'real' Glastonbury of the 1930s, with deep spiritual undercurrents

Quinet, Edgar, Merlin l’Enchanteur (Œuvres complètes 16, (Paris 1895)
A curiosity, but with some very original images and reworking of the traditional plot

Vansittart, Peter, Parsifal (London 1988)
Historical romance set in three different time periods; learned, entertaining, idiosyncratic

Williams, Charles, War in Heaven (London 1930)
Williams sets his esoteric knowledge of the Grail in the framework of an Agatha Christie thriller