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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [Paperback]

James Winny
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 14.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

1992 0921149921 978-0921149927 New edition
The fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the greatest classics of English literature, but one of the least accessible to most twentieth-century readers. Written in an obscure dialect, it is far more difficult to digest in the original than are most other late medieval English works. Yet any translation is bound to lose much of the flavour of the original. This edition of the poem offers the original text together with a facing-page translation. With the alliterative Middle English before the reader, James Winny provides a non-alliterative and sensitively literal rendering in modern English. This edition also provides an introduction, explanatory and textual notes, a further note on some words that present particular difficulties, and, in the appendices, two contemporary stories, The Feast of Bricriu and The Knight of the Sword, which provide insight on the poem.

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Review

"This is the best translation of Sir Gawain. It has the taughtness and vigor of the original, and it shares that Gawain-poet's almost miraculous ability to make the remote world of Arthurian romance immediate to the reader." (Gordon Teskey)

From the Publisher

The Broadview Literary Texts series is an effort to represent the ever-changing canon of literature in English by bringing together texts long regarded as classics with valuable, though lesser-known literature.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Content Not Sacrificed for Form March 24 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is my favorite edition of _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_ not only because it is a fine poem, but also because the facing-page layout allows Winny to translate very accurately. The introduction to the poem and to Winny's translation of it is excellent, and discusses why he chooses not to translate within the confines of the formal characteristics of the poem in the original. Also, there are textual notes, a section discussing certain words in the poet's vocabulary that present significant difficulties for translators, and two appendices containing Arthurian analogues: Fled Briend/Bricriu's Feast and from Le Chevalier a L'Epee/The Knight of the Sword.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Content Not Sacrificed for Form March 24 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is my favorite edition of _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_ not only because it is a fine poem, but also because the facing-page layout allows Winny to translate very accurately. The introduction to the poem and to Winny's translation of it is excellent, and discusses why he chooses not to translate within the confines of the formal characteristics of the poem in the original. Also, there are textual notes, a section discussing certain words in the poet's vocabulary that present significant difficulties for translators, and two appendices containing Arthurian analogues: Fled Briend/Bricriu's Feast and from Le Chevalier a L'Epee/The Knight of the Sword.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has both Middle English and modern English Aug. 7 2011
By Jeremy Richmond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This translation of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" has alternating the original Middle English on the left page and a modern English translation by James Winny on the right page. The translation is well done and it retains the Medieval feel of the original author. I have no intention of learning the northern dialect of Middle English but it was interesting to look at the language and see what it was like.

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was written in the 1300s and it is written in the form of a poem. It starts out at the court of King Arthur on New Year's Day. A green knight shows up and asks if anyone at the court will give a blow with a battle-axe that day and receive a blow with it twelve months and a day later. Arthur agrees to do it but Sir Gawain steps in and offers to do it instead. The green knight receives the blow by Gawain which cuts off his head. The green knight picks up his head and tells Gawain to fulfill his promise by seeking him out at the Green Chapel to receive a blow from the battle-axe in return. Sir Gawain then leaves King Arthur's court to find the Green Chapel and fulfill his promise.

The poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is different from other Arthurian works. It is more barbaric and earthier. In some respects it is like other Arthurian works in that it romanticizes the mythical era of King Arthur portraying it as a time of luxury. My impression when reading the poem was that the scenery in Britain is quite beautiful. I hope to go to Britain one day.

Themes found in the poem include a praise of courage. The poem also stresses however that one should not be too courageous. Resisting temptation is also a theme of the poem. The resistance of temptation is the main part of the story. The poem doesn't shy away from detailing the attraction between men and women. The Christian notion that adultery is wrong is shown. The poem plays around with the concept of adultery making it out to be somewhat of a joke.

"Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" also has a long part detailing the hunting of animals by a lord. The poem goes into so much detail describing the hunt that it is almost as if the poem is teaching the reader how to do it.

My conclusion upon reading "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is that it is a fine example of an Arthurian work. It has all the messages one would normally find in an Arthurian work. The poem toys with the idea of evil in a humorous way as Arthurian works generally do. For readers of Arthurian legend, "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is an important work in the genre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation! Aug. 28 2011
By Lauren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this tale, and with this awesome addition it's even better :) the shipping was a little crappy, but I received my items safely.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read for a college course June 22 2011
By Aimee B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a really fascinating subversion of the tropes of courtly love. Roles generally given to women are given to religion, and quests that in earlier literature are completely external are internalized. I read this for a college course on Arthurian romances and it was definitely one of my favorite books we read. This version has the Middle English (which is difficult Middle English, by the way -- more difficult than Chaucer) on one page and a modern English translation on the facing page.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2+3=5 May 2 2009
By C. Liang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love this book! I just read it and it has so much symmetry and meaning related to the star which is Gawain's symbol on his shield. Came in fast, great and good book. I recommend it.

When you read the book, the left hand side is Middle English and the right hand side is the translation which makes it much more interesting!
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