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Fundación Santillana Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes



The Open Vision: From the Grail Legend to Surrealism

Victoria Cirlot

The Grail legend gives name to this book, which deals with the possibilities of a perception that goes beyond the physical world. The hidden and the invisible are objects of the imaginative faculty that, in the Middle Ages, was understood to be a God-given visionary experience. The first chapter focuses on this vision as a confrontation between an archaic culture, which would include mystics like Hildegard von Bingen, and a more modern culture, in which the aesthetic vanguards understood the inner world as the only possible model for painting. Techniques through which one opens their inner eye are dealt with in the second chapter, which creates a dialogue between Cervantes and Leonardo da Vinci or André Breton. In the third, feelings towards nature are analyzed from the time of medieval mysticism and Jakob Boehme through romanticism and Roger Caillois, for whom the visible leads to the invisible. The fourth discusses the space of the visionary (or the "intermediate zone") from the Abbot of Saint Denis through Picasso; the mundus imaginalis that corresponds to the "open vision" of the Grail as studied in one of the reworkings of the legend, studied in the fifth chapter. And the sixth chapter is devoted to visionary figurativism as compared to geometric figurativism: two "styles" that draw from a single symbolic reality.


Translated by Hope Doyle D´Ambrosio

Book Details

Del mito del Grial al surrealismo (2011)
Victoria Cirlot

Authors > Victoria Cirlot

Victoria Cirlot
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Victoria Cirlot

(Barcelona, Spain, 1955). She is currently a professor of Romance Philology in the Humanities Department at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University and head of the same university's Ph.D. program. She has devoted her study to the Middle Ages: the culture of chivalry and mysticism. She has translated a number of Arthurian novels from the 12th and 13th centuries from the old French, including Perlesvaus and El alto libro del Grial (The High History of the Holy Grail, published by Siruela, reissued a number of times), as well as troubadour poetry (Jaufré Rudel, El amor de lonh, Columna, Barcelona 1998). Her most noteworthy book on the Arthurian novel is entitled Figuras del destino. Mitos y símbolos de la Europa medieval (Figures of destiny. Myths and symbols of Medieval Europe) Siruela, Madrid 2005. In the field of medieval mysticism she has written about Hildegard von Bingen (Vida y visiones de Hildegard von Bingen (The Life and Visions of Hildegard von Bingen), Siruela, Madrid 1997-2006), as well as other mystical writers (La mirada interior. Escritoras místicas y visionarias de la Edad Media (The Inner World: Mystical and Visionary Writers in the Middle Ages), Siruela, Madrid 2008, collaboration). She has worked on the visionary phenomena through comparative studies of the Middle Ages and the 20th Century: La visión abierta. Del mito del Grial al surrealismo (The Open Vision: From the Grail Legend to Surrealism), Siruela, Madrid 2010). She co-edited the collection El Árbol del Paraiso for Siruela publishers. She has also edited the work of her father, poet Juan Eduardo Cirlot.


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