The Mythical Quest: In search of adventure, romance & enlightenment
Galahad, Perceval and Bohors carry the silver case containing the Holy Grail to the Spiritual Palace at Sarras. A crippled beggar, miraculously cured, leaps up to help them. From La Queste del Saint Graal France; circa 1316
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Throughout the world, tales have always been
told of heroes and heroines embarking on perilous quests in search
of lost loved ones, the secret of immortality, earthly paradise
or simply great riches.
Many of these stories have elements in common,
such as clashes with monsters, battles with the elements, interventions
by the gods and tests of moral character, mental cunning and physical
strength. These tales have been expressed in songs, literature,
art and dance for thousands of years, and are still being reinterpreted
today in books, comic strips, interactive games and adventure films.
In The Mythical Quest you will find stories depicted in works that reflect the fascination over four thousand years with the search for true love, everlasting glory and spiritual enlightenment.
The exhibition contained more than 200 visually attractive manuscripts, printed books from the incomparable collections of The British Library, supplemented with works of art on loan from other major national institutions. Exhibits ranged in date from the second millennium BC to the present, from Babylonian clay tablets to the most recent computer games.
An accompanying events and education programme included gallery talks, lectures, storytelling sessions, and videos. There was also a children's trail and a film series, generously supported by the Railway Community Network and North London Railways. A range of books and related products on sale in our Shop, include The Mythical Quest, an illustrated anthology of myths and legends from around the world brought together by Rosalind Kerven and British Library curators and introduced by Penelope Lively.