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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Cover of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
by Anonymous
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The famous Middle English poem by an anonymous English poet is beautifully translated by fellow poet Simon Armitage in this edition. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight narrates in crystalline verse the strange tale of a green knight who rudely interrupts the Round Table festivities one Yuletide, casting a pall of unease over the company and challenging one of their number to a wager. The virtuous Gawain accepts and decapitates the intruder with his own ax. Gushing blood, the knight reclaims his head, orders Gawain to seek him out a year hence, and departs. Next Yuletide Gawain dutifully sets forth. His quest for the Green Knight involves a winter journey, a seduction scene in a dream-like castle, a dire challenge answered, and a drama of enigmatic reward disguised as psychic undoing.
The famous Middle English poem by an anonymous English poet is beautifully translated by fellow poet Simon Armitage in this edition. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight narrates in crystalline verse the strange tale of a green knight who rudely interrupts the Round Table festivities one Yuletide, casting a pall of unease over the company and challenging one of their number to a wager. The virtuous Gawain accepts and decapitates the intruder with his own ax. Gushing blood, the knight reclaims his head, orders Gawain to seek him out a year hence, and departs. Next Yuletide Gawain dutifully sets forth. His quest for the Green Knight involves a winter journey, a seduction scene in a dream-like castle, a dire challenge answered, and a drama of enigmatic reward disguised as psychic undoing.
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About the Author-
  • anonymous1. not named or identified 2. of unknown authorship or origin

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Armitage's new translation, which preserves the alliterative verse of the Middle English original, introduces a new generation of readers and listeners to the unique beauties of this strangest of fourteenth-century Arthurian romances. Alliteration is no longer in high esteem in English verse, and often sounds singsongy to the modern ear. Consequently, many may feel, listening to Armitage's excellent introduction, that they are understanding the dynamics and aesthetics of alliteration for the first time. Bill Wallis's masterful reading of Armitage's contemporary alliterative lines is preparation and tutorial for listening to his even more masterful reading of the Middle English original, on the final three discs. This dual experience is, compared to following the same lines on the page, akin to experiencing a film subtitled and one dubbed. For the audiophile, as much as for the student or scholar, these back-to-back renditions are a matchless pleasure, a revelation, and an expansion of the mind and ear. D.A.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 20, 2007
    Composed in medieval England by an unknown poet and set in what were (even then) the old days of King Arthur, the tale of Sir Gawain begins when a magical warrior with green skin and green hair interrupts the Christmas party at Camelot with a bizarre challenge: “If a person here present, within these premises,/ is big or bold or red blooded enough/ to strike me one stroke and be struck in return” in once year's time, says the knight, “I shall give him as a gift this gigantic cleaver.” Pure, loyal Sir Gawain accepts the agreement: the adventures that ensue include a boar hunt, a deer hunt, and an extended flirtation with a noble lady, designed to test Sir Gawain's bravery, fidelity and chastity, and to explore—with some supernatural help—the true meaning of virtue. The Gawain-poet, as he is known to scholars, wrote in Middle English (reproduced here); though it is slightly harder to read than Chaucer, the grammar is more or less our own. Armitage (The Shout
    ), one of England's most popular poets, brings an attractive contemporary fluency to the Gawain-poet's accentual, alliterative verse: We hear the knights of Round Table “chatting away charmingly, exchanging views.” This is a compelling new version of a classic.

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    Blackstone Publishing
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