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Norton Critical Edition Sir Gawain And The Green Knight Paperback – Nov 1 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton; 1 edition (Nov. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393930254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393930252
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #484,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Marie Borroff is Sterling Professor of English, Emeritus, at Yale University. Her verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was first published in 1967; it appeared together with her translations of Patience and Pearl in 2001. The Gawain-Poet: Complete Works, including her translation of Cleanness and St. Erkenwald, is scheduled for publication in 2010. She is the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A Stylistic and Metrical Study and of Traditions and Renewals: Chaucer, the Gawain-Poet, and Beyond (Yale University Press, 1962, 2003).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 21 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
For verse-lovers Jan. 27 2011
By Minor Fifth - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'll be honest: I haven't read any other verse translation all the way through. Why? I can't get over this one.

"And then the season of summer with the soft winds,
When Zephyr sighs low over seeds and shoots;
Glad is the green plant growing abroad,
When the dew at dawn drops from the leaves,
To get a gracious glance from the golden sun.
But harvest with harsher winds follows hard after,
Warns him to ripen well ere winter comes;
Drives forth the dust in the droughty season,
From the face of the fields to fly high in air.
Wroth winds in the welkin wrestle with the sun,
The leaves launch from the linden and light on the ground,
And the grass turns to gray, that once grew green.
Then all ripens and rots that rose up at first,
And so the year moves on in yesterdays many,
And winter once more, by the world's law,
draws nigh.
At Michaelmas the moon
Hangs wintry pale in sky;
Sir Gawain girds him soon
For travails yet to try."

Just, come on. That's awesome.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful, A Gem of Romantic Literature Feb. 8 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Gaiwan would be worth the purchase if only for the story line alone. However Marie Borroff's amazing translation adds that beauty and eloquence which only a master translator can produce. Borroff uses an alliterative meter which will get you tongue tied if you try and read it out loud. For example the first line is "Since the siege and the assault was ceased at Troy." She also gives us beautiful rhymes at the end of each stanza, like in lines 1236-1240: "My body is here at hand,/ Your each wish to fulfill;/ Your servant to command/ I am, and shall be still/." The story is full of symbolism, and confronts us with a tough philosophical question. You have to read the book to find out what that is however. The book also deals with the problems inherent in the institution of chivalry, and especially courtly love. Overall I thought the story was wonderful, the translation impeccable, and the underlying message profound.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
excellent story, outstanding translation Sept. 30 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love Sir Gawain and The Green Knight; it is interesting not only because of its expansive picture of what chivalry is (and what people pretend it is), but also for the fact that it can be read from many perspectives (try giving it a feminist reading, for instance, and see what you come up with!). I want to commend Borroff's translation in particular; she reproduces the alliterative meter and verse structure superbly, adding much to the reading. This work is captivating and entrancing; I highly recommend it.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Mystery, Magic and Morals in the 14th Century Sept. 5 2000
By A. Matsen - Published on
Format: Paperback
A king, a green giant, a temptress, a witch, and a knight. Seduction, drinking, hunting, and gore. Boring, scholarly, "classic"; I think not. The opening scene is h i l a r i o u s (Imagine congress in that situation!! Would Bill be up to the challenge?:-). If you hated the "literary classics" assigned to you in school, forget that this is one. My favorite parts were the ones with the lord's wife. Her hidden, and NOT so hidden, intentions make for great soap opera material. It's a fun read, and this translation is very well put together.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A delightful and amusing translation Sept. 23 2008
By David Oldacre - Published on
Format: Paperback
I picked up this little book (about 80 pages long), which my son had given to me for safe keeping, and started to read it one night recently when I was having trouble getting to sleep. And what an interesting little book it is. As the title indicates, it is a new verse translation (published in 1967) of a poem by a mediaeval poet who lived about the time of Geoffrey Chaucer.
There is a short introduction about how the poem came to be preserved in the library of Robert Cotton, the great Elizabethan antiquary, as well as a description of this Authurian Romance with its theme of the ideal of knightly conduct - of courage, loyalty and courtesy. Equally interesting in this brief introduction is a discussion of the alliterative style of the poem, and the principles the translator had to follow to ensure that her translation into Modern English would be able to adhere as closely as possible to this style. There is a short section at the back of the book on the Metrical form of the original poem which provides a detailed description of the "alliterative long line" of the poem and samples of the original Middle English version for comparison with the translated version.
The poem is about 2500 lines long and the alliterative style can probably be best appreciated if it is read out aloud. I am not going to go into the tale because that might spoil the fun, but it was an unexpectedly enjoyable read and I learnt more than I expected about the form and style of poetry of medieval times.
I have a copy of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in my library, and perhaps I may renew my acquaintance with that, even though the English which Chaucer used is quite different (and perhaps more modern) from that of this poem - something which might be explained by the fact that mediaeval knights of England were mainly of Norman blood, whose first language was primarily French rather than English. According to my readings on the history of Norman England, it was not until the 14th century that the "English" nobility really started to adopt the use of the language of their native English servants and serfs.
If you like Arthurian Romances, this translation is easy and most enjoyable to read. I thoroughly recommend it!