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Poems of the Pearl Manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Gawain and the Green Knight

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  5,523 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
This edition has been revised to take account of some of the more important textual and interpretative notes and articles published on the poems.
Paperback, 380 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by University of Exeter Press (first published 1400)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 19, 2012 Robert is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Previously familiar to me from Tolkien's translation.

It's tough going for the uninitiated, using original spelling (i.e. thorn, yogh, "u" for "v" etc.) and the dialect makes it even more difficult. I found it harder going even than Piers Plowman which itself is more demanding than Chaucer's dialect.

The poem is a dream-vision, as is Piers Plowman. Such visions also occur in Middle English Romances, e.g. the Sege of Melayne but they are of starkly contrasting nature. Piers and Pearl are both
Ryan Pomerenke
Dec 13, 2013 Ryan Pomerenke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a story that mainly focused on Gawain’s chivalry being tested in many ways by the Green Knight. Everything began when a knight wearing nothing but green showed up to King Arthur’s home in Camelot. The knight asked Arthur to participate in his beheading game. To everyone’s surprise, Sir Gawain, another Knight of the Round Table, suggested that he play in his King’s place. Gawain is told that he can have one swing at the Green Knight’s head, but if the knight s ...more
Dan Prillwitz
Jan 09, 2014 Dan Prillwitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Sir Gawain” is a narrative poem that tells us a story about chivalry. Sir Gawain is the knight who is tested. On New Year’s Eve a Green Knight comes to Camelot looking to play a game. He asked who the leader of the castle was, because he figured he would be the one to play the game. King Arthur tells the Green Knight he is the leader and the Green Knight tells the King all the rules of the game. The Knights at the Roundtable know they should not let their King play the game so Sir Gawain is the ...more
Brea Mapes
I read the Medieval Romance “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” translated by Marie Borroff. This poem was a test of chivalry for Sir Gawain. The Green Knight proposes for someone to play his game. The rules were that one person is to try and cut the head off of the Green knight, and if they succeed they get to keep the ax. Although if they fail, in 12 months and a day the Green Knight will be able to cut the head off of his opponent. The game took place and someone lost, but in the end there was ...more
Karl Steel
Sep 30, 2007 Karl Steel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly done teaching it. Borroff's translation is, I guess, tied for the best available, but--and I hate to be a snob about it--there's really no substitute for the original. I doubt Borroff would disagree with me.

which isn't to say that the translation can't be improved* in places: for example, a nice short piece by R. J. Dingley in Explicator some years back suggested that the "gyn" of Patience 146 ("Hit wat3 a ioyles gyn þat Jonas wat3 inne") be glossed as "craft," while Borroff does it as...
Apr 02, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading this book for my humanities class as part of our Poet unit, and I found it to be difficult to get into at first, although the last two Fitts really made up for it. After finishing the story, I realized that the story isn't simply for entertainment value, but rather as a means of realizing how Sir Gawain was determined to prove himself and thus become less "green". Unlike the other knights, Gawain feels that he needs to prove himself worthy of being a knight, especially si ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Ygraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
there is no time more beautifully, ominously dark than the week between christmas day and the coming of the new year; we eat and drink and make merry, with our windows tightly shut and our doors firmly barred against the wild winter but it's impossible not to feel the chill of the year breathing its last. it's this eerie sense of dread that i love about sir gawain and the green knight, the way the boundaries between the court and the wild, nature and the supernatural, reality and fantasy, histor ...more
The rating is for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as I haven't (yet) read the others. Sir Gawain is classic, it is rich and strange, full of weird symmetries and magic and winter and chivalry and language that is at once intricately structured and fiercely vital. I somehow have managed to acquire four copies of it––the Tolkien and Borroff translations, this, and the text in my Medieval English Lit textbook.
May 27, 2012 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-english
Originally given away in CD format with the fifth edition of the Gawain poems by Malcolm Andrew and Ronald Waldron, but now available in hardcover book format. Designed to be used by students as an aid to translating the original Middle English texts, the translators give a superb and accurate translation of all four poems contained in the Gawain manuscript.
May 27, 2012 Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-english
By far the best edition of these poems I've ever come across. Gives the complete Middle English texts of of all four poems with extensive notes, introduction and glossary. Does for the Gawain poet what Frederick Klaeber did for Beowulf.
Stephanie Kelley
Nov 28, 2015 Stephanie Kelley rated it liked it
pearl was best
Rima Rashid
Gawain's my bae.
Red Dog
Interesting from an historical point of view, but less so from a reading for pleasure standpoint.
Jan 18, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raven Loweframe
Mar 15, 2013 Raven Loweframe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of this collection, I only read Patience and Sir Gawain. 'Patience' was read years ago when I was still a BA student, while 'Sir Gawain' have marked my entire studies in terms of medieval literature. Not a semester without having to read it at least once. Not that I complain.

This edition is a must have for any students - though I am certain your teachers know that already. For anyone else, the spelling may be off-putting, since the original has been kept. Be prepared. (Reading it aloud helps qu
Jun 27, 2015 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I teach British Literature, so I am very familiar with epic poetry and those involving heroes and chivalry, and tales of King Arthur's court. What I enjoy most about these tales is that whoever composed this poem, and others like it, knew the value of instilling the values of the ideal man to the people who listened to these poems performed in person. The common person could hear these tales and walk away thinking about his/her life, and what he or she needed to do to become the shining example ...more
Dan de Sa
Jun 05, 2012 Dan de Sa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This edition of the Pearl Poet's oeuvre is simply excellent because the poetry is preserved in the original language.

Foremost, my favorite of the collection is probably that of most: SGGK. I believe there are a number of reasons which account for this. The first is my 20th/21st century preference for narrative over lyric. This doesn't mean I don't like lyric verse, it is just to say that my mind simply looks for narrative structure when I start reading a piece, and I think this results in my (a
N.J. Ramsden

There's no doubting the value of the source material – the Pearl MS is a fascinating document, and its poems a wonderful set of Middle English texts, the language throbbing from the page – but this edition, standard as it may be considered, is in sorry need of updating.

Firstly, the typesetting is about as unfriendly to close reading as it could be, with the slight differences between bold, regular, and italic text of a rather fudgy appearance mad
Apr 30, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
My review of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is here!

"Pacience is a poynt, þa3 hit displese ofte.
When heuy herttes ben hurt with heþyng oþerelles,
Suffraunce may aswag[en] hem & þe swleme leþe,
For ho quelles vche a qued & quenches malyce;
For quoso suffer cowþe syt, sele wolde fol3e,
& quo for þro may no3t þole, þe þikker he sufferes."

Having already read the most famous work by the Pearl Poet, I decided to give his other works a shot. While I have to say that "Perle" outshin
Adam Krause
“Sir Gawain” is an interesting narrative poem. The poem tells a story of a knight and and his commitment to chivalry. Sir Gawain is this knight and he is put through challenges without knowing he is being tested. A mysterious green knight is in command of these challenges. Sir Gawain will soon find out by the end of his test if he really is an honorable knight of the round table.

Sir Gawain is the main character of the story. He is a knight of the round table and stands up for what is right. King
Feb 06, 2014 awgusteen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I originally had to pick this up for class, but recently read the rest of the poems on my own. It's a fascinating look into the Medieval mind, and the essays and footnotes by Marie Borroff are insightful and engaging.

These poems are often strange, but I cannot help but be captivated by them. The Gawain Poet (whoever he was) was a shows in his allusions and in his words. The poems themselves run from the complex and heavily theological Pearl, to the simpler but no less moving Saint
Brianne Durrant
Dec 16, 2013 Brianne Durrant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was a little difficult to understand, it was a good book to read. I loved the message. This book is about testing for Chivalry. One day on New Year’s Eve, King Arthur and his knights were having a feast when The Green Knight interrupted and asked King Arthur to play the beheading game. The beheading game is where if he can chop off the Green Knight's head, he wins. However, if he does not, the Green Knight gets to do the same thing one year later. Sir G ...more
One of the wonderful things about Medieval literature is that its tools and templates are quite strict and often familiar, and I still don't know how it's going to end. I was pulled through this poem on the basis of sheer anticipation. The ending still threw me for a loop.

Lately I want books about heroes: people who do the hard thing even when they don't have to, who suffer discomfort without complaint, who rely on their wits and strength and "curteisye" toward others. I don't really want to be
Aug 10, 2010 Nayarit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pearl is my favorite poem, hands down. I don't know what it is about the poem that I love so much. It could be the almost musical quality to the words or the alliterations, the beautiful imagery, or the sweet, touching story. I just love the poem.

I'm not a big poem fan, and I think the resaon I love this so much is because it's a story really. Even though you know you're reading a poem because the voice alone but it wove sadness and hope and had a plot and it just captivates.

I know the "Pearl P
N.J. Ramsden
This facsimile edition from the Early English Text society comes unbound in a ribbon-fastened box, with an introduction and notes from the 1923 publication. Any concerns about the effects the passage of time since upon the scope of literary criticism must be balanced fairly against the primary reason for this edition still being in print – that there isn't a more recent facsimile. The British Library is currently in the process of digitising texts of this kind, for open online access, but althou ...more
A very interesting, if slightly exhausting, read -- the parallel-text format kept tempting me over to the left-hand pages where I got dose after dose of the impenetrable original text of the mystery poet's works. I have to say that even with my limited knowledge of Middle English, some of the translations seemed very free indeed and I wonder how much of the meaning was lost or altered. Nevertheless this is an intriguing look into a deeply religious medieval mind -- and I do mean medieval, becaus ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A descriptively vivid and highly alliterative musical style gives this poem, just superficially, a high interest. Beyond that, we have one of the greatest allegories of romance ever conceived, and a masterfully woven plot that guides the reader along as if on gently sloping hills. Gawain is so difficult to categorize, however, because the plot seems light and breezy, there is literally laughter throughout the whole poem, but the events tell a tale of a profound limitation hidden within human nat ...more
Des Small
Apr 14, 2014 Des Small rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you only read one chivalric Arthurian romance in alliterative middle-English verse, it should probably be this one.

Middle-English alliterative verse itself noted for (a) randoume spellynge (it is a curiosity that if you spell inconsistently by ear these days you'll get denounced as semiliterate but these medieval monks get a pass for that) and (b) a gazillion synonyms for "bloke" so that you can aliterate on any letter while still talking about a bloke or geezer or chap or fellow or knight o
Oct 28, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry, 2008
I enjoyed finally being able to finish Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. My english lit. book in highschool had told the first part, but did not finish it. So for about 2 years I was doomed to wondering how Gawain got out of it alive-or if he even did. I was therefore please when I found a copy in my university library. I enjoyed these translations very much, and the notes for the text were helpful and informative.
Oct 10, 2011 Bobby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Chaucer fan you will be delighted with this little gem. Written anonymously in the 13th or 14th Century, its a tale told many, many times over the years. Sir Gawain is to be tested by a green knight and the entire truth and gallantry of Arthur's knights are tested through him. The giant makes a deal with Sir Gawain and the ensuing wager is one of chivalry on both sides. To tell any more would create spoilers. This translation is easy to understand but also has the Olde English versi ...more
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