Marion Zimmer Bradley impressed me at an early age: I read The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover books at the delicate age of 13 years. I remember asking my dad then, wether men actually spent that much time thinking about sex. He said, “Probably.” I didn’t understand it. It was years ago. – Other than that, let me just say that I seem to be a bigger feminist than my girlfriend, hehe. A very good read.
Other people wrote about Arthurian Romances, too: The Once and Future King by T. H. White is funny and tragic as Arthur tries to keep the peace in his country. Other authors attempted the retelling, too: Mary Stewart’s story from Merlin’s point of view is well known. Newer authors have retold the story from Guinever’s point of view: Summer Queen by Nancy McKenzie’s, Guenevere by Rosalind Miles.
Le Morte d'Arthur by Mallory is very readable, even today. The first retelling by Chrétien de Troyes in the second half of the twelfth century is less entertaining to read, but still interesting (at least the English translation, haha). The original Queste del Saint Graal, however – also in an English translation, of course – is full of religious overtones. And that I don’t enjoy for any extended period of time. I stopped after 160 pages.
And then there’s the lay of Tristan and Isolde. I read a retelling by Günter de Bruyn. I have yet to attempt a translation of the 13th century original by Gottfried von Straßburg. Oh well. Life is long, there will be years to come. ^_^ Der Liebestod is part of the opera Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner. It is a very famous piece of classical music which I enjoy very much. Very sad and very beautifull. Like Ein Deutsches Requiem by Brahms.
I should try to get my hands on some Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach.
If you’re interested in the middle ages, see the Medieval Sourcebook: