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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Facing Page Translation Paperback – 1992
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“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, Harvard University
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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.See all Product Description
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"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.
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!
with each line matching up so it is easy to go back and forth. The notes at the end are minimal, so I'd suggest
getting the Norman Davis's second edition which has extensive and even exhaustive notes, however only
with the Middle English text. The Davis notes are marked by line numbers, so it is easy to use with Winny's book,.