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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight Paperback – Oct 15 2008
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The Oxford World's Classics edition offers students an excellent introduction to this classic text and also important notes and chronologies.
About the Author
Australian born-poet and translator Keith Harrison taught for 30 years at Carleton College, Minnesota. He has published many books of poetry and translation including Points in a Journey (Macmillan), The Basho Poems (Minneapolis) and A Burning of Applewood (Northfield, Black Willow). Helen Cooper is Professor of English Language and Literature, and Tutorial Fellow at University College, Oxford. She is the editor of Malory's Le Morte Darthur in Oxford World's Classics.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although in many texts the explanatory notes in the back of the book disrupts the reader's concentration from the actual text and destroys the general flow of the novel, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight this is not an issue. The translator's writing is detailed and clear enough so that the reader does not need to refer to the appendix of the book to understand a certain phrase or line. The translator's attention to both metric flow and detail contributes to the success of the text.
The Introduction, written by Helen Cooper, is helpful yet is also a spoiler. Cooper describes to the reader the original author's writing style as well as gives the reader a background on Arthurian romances and poetic structure. However, during her process of explaining the elements of the book and the character of Sir Gawain to the reader, Cooper reveals the unfolding plot of the novel. While clearly written and easily understandable, the Introduction to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is too informal a writing to such a sophisticated text.
The novel starts out in King Arthur's court, around Christmas time. An unusual visitor arrives, in the form of a giant knight, who as the title implies, is green. He makes a challenge that is met by Sir Gawain, the king's nephew. After a short display, he finds out that he will ultimately have to confront the knight a year later to receive his deathblow. Thus, the story begins, as Gawain sets out on his voyage, to not only find the Green Knight, but also the hero in himself.
Although not too long, the text is very rich. It is full of subliminal messages, which create plots of their own. However, it can still be enjoyed even when taken literally, thanks to the clear writing of Harrison, and to the imagination of the original author.
At less than ten dollars, the book is an excellent value. Although a casual reader would get enjoyment from one reading, further readings would almost certainly bring out new themes and revelations to those more familiar with Arthurian romances, making this a must for any Arthurian enthusiast.
But even without a deep respect of the style of writing, the reader finds in Keith Harrison's SGGK a great retelling of a story that follows the up's and down's of Gawain and his quest for the Green Knight. Within the visible, physical struggle, an inner, mental conflict between the knight's own mindset as a romance hero and his all too obvious humanity becomes the dominant force in the narrative. The inner struggle is something that every human being, from past ages or modern cultures will face.
The deeper meaning in SGGK provides a backbone to a story beautifully translated into modern poetry. Because of the story's symbolic undertones, the recommendation is for the reader to read through the story once for its basic hero story and next to answer the question of why the Green Knight did not kill Gawain to upend his side of the deal. The realization then becomes the connection that Gawain's weaknesses have with your own human flaws. Because of the correlation between Gawain and the common man, this story has survived the test of time and space.
Most recent customer reviews
Keith Harrison's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a masterful classic that creates a new world in the reader's mind dating back to the times of Arthur's Round... Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003 by Dennis Shen
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with its translation by Keith Harrison (Oxford University Press 1998), is an enjoyable, as well as intellectually stimulating, book. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2003
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, among the tales of Arthur and his knights, presents one of the most moving, exciting, and human accounts of medieval knighthood. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003
...Keith Harrison's verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) is a fine read. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by MVB9
Over the years I've read versions of this poem by numerous people: Brian Stone (the best before this), Tolkien, Raffael, Silverstein, and the archaic and almost unreadable version... Read morePublished on May 12 2003 by kerstin calley
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was an interesting book to read. The imagery of nature throughout the book played an important role in Gawain's quest. Read morePublished on May 5 2003 by m.e.b.
Many would-be readers are put-off by the word "classic," inferring that anything tagged with that label is necessarily dry, inaccessible, and out-of-touch. Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2001 by K. Jump
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