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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain…

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

by Gawain Poet, Pearl Poet

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,82258959 (3.73)209
  1. 151
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (OwenGriffiths, chrisharpe)
    OwenGriffiths: If you like Old/Middle English texts translated by great poets...
  2. 91
    Idylls the King by Alfred Tennyson (chrisharpe)
  3. 60
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / Pearl / Cleanness / Patience by Anonymous (OwenGriffiths)
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    The Sagas of Icelanders by Örnólfur Thorsson (chrisharpe)
  5. 30
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo by Anonymous (Muscogulus)
    Muscogulus: Tolkien's fluent translations of "Sir Gawain" and "Pearl" are an excellent introduction to the genius of the anonymous Pearl-Poet. "Sir Orfeo" with its strange images of Faerie makes a good addition to the volume.
  6. 30
    The poems of Ossian by James MacPherson (ghilbrae)
  7. 21
    The Death of King Arthur by Unknown (jm501, jm501)
  8. 33
    The Odyssey by Homer (chrisharpe)
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    On Hunting by Roger Scruton (bertilak)

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» See also 209 mentions

English (57)  Spanish (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
When I found out we had to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for a current university subject, I was a little worried. I often struggle with analysing poetry and something written in Middle English was not going to be easy. Thankfully we had to read the Brian Stone translation, which only hints at being Middle English. This is a famous 14th century Arthurian romance that is often known for the beheading game.

This is a typical quest narrative; The Green Knight exposes the Knights of the Round Table as timid and cowards when he challenges them to the beheading game. The rules are simple, one knight tries to behead the Green Knight and in a year and a day he will meet them for the returning blow. The Arthurian world is governed by a well-established code of behaviour. This code is one of chivalry, a romantic notion that is deeply rooted in Christian morality, being a beacon of spiritual ideals in a fallen world.

The beheading game is a plot device used as a test in the quest narrative, Sir Gawain is thrown into participating in the game and he is left with a choice, to be a man that lives by his code or not. A game that is meant to measure the inner worth of the knights and it does it in a big way, it exposes the Knights as cowards but Gawain steps up, sort of.

There is a whole lot of humour in this story that often gets over looked when trying to analyse this difficult text. The idea of beheading someone and them returning for a reciprocating blow should have given that away. However the supernatural elements might have made this difficult to pick up on the comedic value. The Green Knight can be interpreted as an allusion of Christ and the strong religious overtones might lead you to think that but I saw him more as a plot device to represent life’s challenges.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a rather beautiful and interesting exploration for me. The translation I read did make it easier to understand, I don’t think I could handle learning Middle English. I had to do an assignment on this text and the quest narrative so I feel like I’ve already said plenty about this poem before sitting down to writing this review. I hope there is plenty of information here and gives the reader an idea of what to expect when reading this poem. It isn’t hard to understand if you have the right translation and is well worth reading.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2014/05/18/sir-gawain-and-the-green-knight-by-an... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Dec 7, 2014 |
I would have loved this if for no other reason than that Armitage, in the Introduction, offers support for pronouncing Gawain's name with the stress on the second syllable (pg 15), which is the pronunciation I grew up with but which seems uncommon. If there is scholarly difference of opinion, then I'm not wrong when I slip up and call him Gawain.

Anyway, Armitage's translation has much more going for it than an introduction which favors my pronunciation! It zips along, with modern diction and a translation which is more poetic than literal. A few times I felt like his word choices were a bit too silly but, looking at the original text on the facing page, it always appeared (to my very inexpert eye) that his choices were well supported (the Gawain poet was not above silliness!). It's been a long time since I last read Sir Gawain, and I'd forgotten what a great poem it is – beautiful, funny, and moving. I plan to read Marie Borroff's translation next to compare, but Armitage's looser translation is really marvelous! ( )
  meandmybooks | Nov 13, 2014 |
Isn't this just the creepiest cover? Anyway, I've read this for the thriller category for the Back to the Classics Challenge. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table enjoy a Christmas celebration. But, along comes a huge green knight who goads them into accepting a challenge. In order to protect King Arthur, Sir Gawain agrees to the challenge. He must make one blow with his sword against the Green Knight today, then in one year Sir Gawain must come and find the Green Knight and receive one blow from him. Well, Sir Gawain chops his head off in one blow, but the Green Knight picks up his head and laughingly gallops off. You'll have to read it to see what happens. ( )
  heidip | Nov 1, 2014 |
A very readable version of the poem. Armitage retains the verve of the original story as well as the beat,alliteration and bob-and wheel sections (two syllable lines followed by a quatrain) of the original poetry.

'And they danced and they sang til the sun went down
that day
But mind your mood, Gawain,
keep blacker thoughts at bay,
or lose this lethal game
you've promised you will play.'

The poem was fastened to the page in the late 14thc, in the "alliteration revival" style : it was a style of verse that keeps to an Anglo-Saxon literary style and was almost certainly orally transmitted before. The use of repetition and alliteration are characteristic of the oral tradition: think about how fabulous the rhythm of lines like these sound spoken aloud

'Then they riled the creature with their rowdy ruckus
and suddenly he breaks the barrier of beaters -
the biggest of wild boars has bolted from his cover'

I love that Simon Armitage has let the poem breathe and remain a living thing rather than a dry academic exercise. The loss of a star is due to the fact that occasionally there is a choice of a word that jars, that sounds a bit too modern, chosen for the sake of the alliteration but can feel a bit shoe- horned in. I also prefer a side by side translation, but that is being a bit nit picky as the original is readily available .

( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
This work of translation/poetry enables us to enjoy, and understand, the literature of the middle ages -- an Arthurian romance in alliterative verse. The translator Borroff is a poet. The tale was provided by an anonymous contemporary of Chaucer -- in the 1300s.

Gawain is a knight of his age, expected to adhere to a standard of conduct with established mores of courage, loyalty, and courtesy.

Folkloric "challenges" are included in this story -- the hero agrees to meet the Green Knight in honor of a promise to accept a killing stroke. He is unable to find the Green Chapel on New Years' as instructed, but instead, comes upon a magnificent castle where he is entertained for three days. The hosts' beautiful wife visits his bedchamber and makes amorous overtures. He must refuse the lady's advances without insulting her--this is high comedy.

He finally accepts a green girdle from her which has the power to make its wearer invulnerable. There are hunting scenes, which bracket the bedchamber scenes, in joyous pursuit of deer, boar and fox.

The poet gives the hunt -- with its demanding physical exertions carried on with skill in fine weather with loyal companions -- the kind of "meaning" which is sheer delight. The joy is of the body, of the man who is at one with all animals. The narrator's sense of love for the physical world, juxtaposed -- he loves juxtapositions -- with the urges of sex in the bedchamber.

The subplots are resolved in the last part of the poem when Sir Gawain and the Green Knight meet once more. The narrative clearly presents an honored knight, famed for courage and courtesy, proved fallible. He is in breach of faith with his host, indulged cowardice, and in covetous desires. The final tension is stretched by whether the Green Knight will forgive Gawain for his perfidy. And whether Gawain -- angered by the revelation of his multiple and humiliating faults -- will forgive himself.

The repeated phrase "joy surpassed all measure". [29]

I love the alliteration, the joyfulness of the poetry, and the wicked wit of the plot. This is tragicomedy, not baltering swordplay and handwringing.

There is an odd "religious" motif as well - knights commending each other "to the Prince of Paradise", and crossing themselves and crying "On Christ". The lovers kiss and then "commend each other to Christ". [28] But that is of course, a joke. Christian sanctifications play no part. The poem is completely priest-free until Gawain accepts the unfair power of a magic girdle and then he immediately goes to a priest to pray he "lead a better life and lift up his mind" ! He confesses the sin and then still concealing the girdle, goes right back to making merry with the ladies. [39] This must bring howls of recognition from a medieval court. And the magic -- a woman's loin cloth "green girdle" -- is entirely pagan.

And then the generosity, the inclusion of the blessing:
"Many such, ere we were born,
Have befallen here, ere this,
May He that was crowned with thorn
Bring all men to His bliss!"
  keylawk | Jan 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gawain Poetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pearl Poetmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Armitage, SimonTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirtlan, Ernest J.B.Translatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tolkien, J. R. R.Translatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Banks, Theodore HowardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borroff, MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burrow, J.A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooper, HelenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, KeithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, GwynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, FrederickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Markus, ManfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merwin, W. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Neilson, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, BrianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My Lady of Dreams
My Wife
(Ernest Kirtlan edition)
First words
Siþen þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wroȝt
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erþe:
Once the siege and assault of Troy had ceased,
with the city a smoke-heap of cinders and ash,
the turncoat whose tongue had tricked his own men
was tried for his treason - the truest crime on earth.

(translated by Simon Armitage, 2007)
When the war and the siege of Troy were all over
and the city flattened to smoking rubble,
the man who'd betrayed it was brought to trial,
most certainly guilty of terrible crimes.

(translated by Bernard O'Donoghue, 2006)
After the battle and the attack were over at Troy,
The town beaten down to smoking brands and ashes,
That man enmeshed in the nets of treachery—the truest
Of men—was tried for treason; I mean

(translated by Keith Harrison, 1983)
Once the siege and assault had done for Troy,
And the city was smashed, burned to ashes,
The traitor whose tricks had taken Troy
For the Greeks, Aeneas the noble, was exiled

(translated by Burton Raffel, 1970)
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine this work with the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight/Pearl/Sir Orfeo or any other omnibus work. Thank you.
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary
Gawain chops green neck
But flinches when it's his turn.
He is forgiven.
The winter axe falls
and the green fruit rolls away;
Gawain will suffer.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140440925, Paperback)

‘Be prepared to perform what you promised, Gawain;
Seek faithfully till you find me …’

A New Year’s feast at King Arthur’s court is interrupted by the appearance of a gigantic Green Knight, resplendent on horseback. He challenges any one of Arthur’s men to behead him, provided that if he survives he can return the blow a year later. Sir Gawain accepts the challenge and decapitates the knight – but the mysterious warrior cheats death and vanishes, bearing his head with him. The following winter Gawain sets out to find the Knight in the wild Northern lands and to keep his side of the bargain. One of the great masterpieces of Middle English poetry, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight magically combines elements of fairy tale and heroic sagas with the pageantry, chivalry and courtly love of medieval Romance.

Brian Stone’s evocative translation is accompanied by an introduction that examines the Romance genre, and the poem’s epic and pagan sources. This edition also includes essays discussing the central characters and themes, theories about authorship and Arthurian legends, and suggestions for further reading and notes.

@GawainsWorld So listen here, some green man came to the hall and wants someone to cut his head off. Some sort of dare? Could be fun, right?

The deal is I cut off his head now, and he cuts off mine a year later. What a jester, doesn’t he know he’ll be dead?

This goblin fellow is totally dead.

All seemed fine until Ichabod Crane here fell to the floor, stood up, and picked up his head. His head, in his hands. In HIS HANDS!

From Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:43 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

A poetic translation of the classic Arthurian story is an edition in alliterative language and rhyme of the epic confrontation between a young Round Table hero and a green-clad stranger who compels him to meet his destiny at the Green Chapel.

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393060489, 0393334155

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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