Chrétien de Troyes, commonly regarded as the father of Arthurian romance and a key figure in Western literature, composed in French in the latter part of the twelfth century. Virtually nothing is known of his life. Possibly a native of Troyes, he enjoyed patronage there from the Countess Marie of Champagne before dedicating his last romance to Count Philip of Flanders, perhaps about 1182. His poetry is marked by a learning and a taste for dialectic acquired in Latin schools; but at the same time it reveals a warm human sympathy which breathes life into characters and situations. Whilst much of his matter is inherited from the world of Celtic myth and the events notionally unfold in the timeless reign of King Arthur, the society and customs are those of Chrétien's own day. In his last, unfinished work, Perceval, the mysterious Grail makes its first appearance in literature.
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