Take a Chance: The Mystic Grail

The Mystic Grail: the Challenge of the Arthurian Quest, by John Matthews

This is my first 'Take a Chance' book, and it was #10 on the list: "Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children. Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it." I picked that option because most of the rest require you to pick the title before you get to the library, and I was already there.

I went to the non-fiction section and decided to go to the second-to-last aisle, left-hand shelf, second-to-last section. I thought I would choose the smallest book in that section, because I knew it was going to be history and I didn't want to get a gigantic tome. Good thing too, because it turned out to be the section on the modern British royals and I could easily have gotten stuck with one of the biographies of Princess Diana. Diana books took up two shelves. British history came after that. The second-smallest book was 1215, a book on the Magna Carta that I've already read (and it's quite good), but the smallest book was The Mystic Grail, by John Matthews.

It's one of those artsy little books with lots of paintings and woodcuts, following the history of the Grail quest. It's nice enough, though schmaltzy in spots (for example: "It is only our failure to inquire more deeply into the nature of our own spirituality that prevents us from realizing the vision of the Grail in our lives"). Still, it has some good quotations from older sources and lots of nice paintings, a few of which are even not by pre-Raphaelites. My favorite candidate for sugariest painting is "Lancelot and Guinevere," by Herbert James Draper, which I've put below for you.


  1. Looks like an interesting and pretty book! Grail mythology fascinates me.

  2. Yeah, it was OK, but I've read better books on Grail mythology, to be honest. This was almost one of those gift-type books that you give to someone you don't know too well. It did have some good things in it though.


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