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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

by
3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  38,855 Ratings  ·  985 Reviews
One of the earliest great stories of English literature after ?Beowulf?, ?Sir Gawain? is the strange tale of a green knight on a green horse, who rudely interrupts King Arthur's Round Table festivities one Yuletide, challenging the knights to a wager. Simon Armitrage, one of Britain's leading poets, has produced an inventive and groundbreaking translation that "[helps] lib ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1390)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi
I didn't know where to post this so I think this is a good place!
It remains me of my Literature professor, in a good way of course! :)
Jason Koivu
Contains the greatest "OH FUCK" moment in medieval literature!

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - listed here as written by Unknown, though I believe it may have been penned by that prolific Greek author Anonymous - is a classic tale from Arthurian legend in which the code of honor attributed to chivalry is heavily ensconced.

There are many interpretations of the poem's meaning, and historically speaking it's often dependent on the reader's bias. For instance, Christians latched on to the sex aspe
...more
Terry
One of the best of the 'classic' Arthurian tales. Gawain is presented a bit differently here from many of the other ones. Usually he's a bit of a braggart and kind of a jerk, especially to women, but here he is presented as the perfect exemplar of courtoisie. He's also a bit young and still untried, so maybe that explains it for those who want to be able to have a grand unified theory of Arthuriana.

Anyway, you probably all know the story: Arthur is about to have a New Year's feast, but accordin
...more
Vivian
Jan 02, 2016 Vivian rated it it was amazing
Enchanting translation that made me love words again. The cadence and rhythm Armitage employed gave life to the modern English rather than direct translation. The Introduction laid out precisely what he would do and why he made the choice he did--to preserve the beauty of the poetry, both the alliterative Anglo-Saxon and the breakout stanzas of continental rhyming.

And I fell in love with language again. I found myself speaking aloud or mouthing them to feel the words tumbling out. For that joy,
...more
Aubrey
I gave this three stars because it whetted my sapiosexuality for (view spoiler), because seriously, if you hate women, there's only three things you can do to tide me over with your writing: not write about them, be glorious at everything else, or include a female character who for all your fancy rhythms obviously scares the living shit out of you. In the words of the immortal Shelley, if I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other, and with twenty lines out ...more
Eddie Watkins
Jun 22, 2010 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: youthful mediaevelists
I'd been attracted to this poem for years and years, but somehow never read it; tiptoeing 'round it like a gentleman too dignified to display his blood-gorged book lust. The title itself attracted me - the name Gawain and the idea of a Green Knight evoked plenty of mental imagery: greenery and silver clashings in fecund fairy tale landscapes. I also like the way Tolkien's name looks and sounds (evocative of tangled teeming forests clearly delineated) so I dipped into his version a while ago, but ...more
Nickolas the Kid
Γνωστός Αρθουριανός μύθος δοσμένος έμμετρα από άγνωστο ποιητή του 14ου αιώνα.
Προσωπικά μου άρεσε αρκετά!!!

Ο Πράσινος Ιππότης ανήμερα των Χριστουγέννων πηγαίνει στο Κάμελοτ και προκαλεί τους Ιππότες του Αρθούρου. Ζητάει από τον πιο γενναίο ιππότη να του δώσει ένα δυνατό χτύπημα και μετά από ένα χρόνο να τον επισκεφτεί στο Πράσινο Ξωκλήσι του ώστε να ανταποδώσει το χτύπημα αυτό. Ο πιο δυνατός Ιππότης της στρογγυλής Τράπεζας ο Σερ Γκάουεν (ο Λάνσελοτ δεν είχε εμφανιστεί ακόμα στην αυλή του Αρθούρου
...more
Mark Adderley
It’s always puzzling to know what to do with a book subtitled “A New Verse Translation.” It’s all very well for the moment, of course, but what about in a few years? When the translation is no longer new, will it need a new title? I have similar reservations about terms like “postmodern.” What comes after it? Post-postmodern? And is modernism now called pre-postmodernism?

All of which doesn’t seem strictly relevant, except that I can’t help feeling that there’s something slightly self-conscious a
...more
Arthur Graham
She gave him her 'girdle', did she? A little something to remember her by, hmmmm? Personally, I found it rather hard to believe that a hound dog like Gawain would pass up the opportunity, but I did ultimately enjoy this humorous tale of chivalry and self-imposed cockblockery. Green Knight rules!
Nikki
"Note: you have also reviewed the following editions of this book:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback) (isbn )
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback) (isbn 0140440925)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback) (isbn 0140424539)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (isbn 0719055172)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (isbn 0571223281)
Sir Gawain & the Green Knight (Paperback) (isbn 0030088801)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback) (isbn 1146360738)"

Oops.

Anyway, I reread Simon Arm
...more
Thomas
Sep 12, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps my favorite Arthurian classic so far. Loved the alliterative verse and the beautiful descriptions of seasons - the conflicting ideas centered on chivalry, courtship, religion, etc. all made the reading much more intellectually stimulating. Not to mention that the ending throws in a wedge that forces one to evaluate the overall theme of the poem, or whether a unifying theme exists at all. Highly recommended for those interested in British literature and for those who want to give it a try ...more
Jan-Maat
An enjoyable translation:
Yes, he dozes in a daze, dreams and mutters
like a mournful man with his mind on dark matters-
how destiny might deal him a death-blow on the day
when he grapples with the giant in the green chapel;
of how the strike of the axe must be suffered without struggle.
But sensing her presence there he surfaces from sleep,
drags himself out of his dreams to address her.
Laughing warmly she walks towards him
and finds his face with the friendliest kiss.
In a worthy style he welcomes the
...more
Natalie Moore Goodison
The perfect link between Beowulf and Chaucer. The alliteration is phenomenal and I think he just makes up words to sound fabulous. A green man, a challenge, King Arthur's court, a bet, a perilous situation, an alluring woman, and an embracing host with lots of magic and feasts. What more could one ask for?

This translation gets right to the heart of the ME without being in ME. A wonderful translation with excellent essays in the back. If you don't feel like tackling the Middle English, but still
...more
Maggie
Nov 27, 2007 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent translation of a favorite work. Like Heaney's Beowolf, the original text is set facing the translation.

What I particularly loved about Armitage's work is his devotion to alliteration throughout the work. As he explains in his preface, the Gawain poet was writing in a form that hearkens back to Anglo-Saxon poetry, where alliteration within the line instead of rhyming at the end is key to the music of the poem. Really, his introductory musings on poetry is a big part of why I enjoyed
...more
Nora
I mean the story is interesting enough, but God is Gawain annoying. For fuck's sake man, you said you were sorry and you gave back the damn girdle. Do you really have to hang your head in shame for the rest of your days? If you're gonna be ashamed of something, it should be that gross misogynistic rant at the end of the poem.
Michael
When I found out we had to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for a current university subject, I was a little worried. I often struggle with analysing poetry and something written in Middle English was not going to be easy. Thankfully we had to read the Brian Stone translation, which only hints at being Middle English. This is a famous 14th century Arthurian romance that is often known for the beheading game.

This is a typical quest narrative; The Green Knight exposes the Knights of the Round
...more
Lauren
Jan 04, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You like tales of King Arthur, yes? Perhaps, like me, you tried to read Morte D'Arthur and it didn't go so well. Try this instead. It's only about 100 pages long, it's in cool alliterative verse, and it paces well. There's nothing superfluous in the text. Gawain is a good sort of guy, only slightly boring. The Green Knight has one of the best entrances in literature.

As a bonus, try to imagine Don Quixote reading this book and acting it out. Drink some wine. You've got yourself an entertaining e
...more
Eleidhunita
Jan 08, 2016 Eleidhunita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Está muy bien!
Felicia J.
What a treat! Simon Armitage's lyrical translation of this 600-year-old medieval English poem begs to be read aloud. Bill Wallis was an inspired choice; his gruff but warm reading perfectly suits both the soaring alliteration and the more rustic, colloquial moments of the story. (His northern accent lent a special authenticity to the performance; the poem was composed in a Northwest Midlands dialect.)

Armitage's rendering of the poem sacrifices literal translation for the sake of preserving allit
...more
Josiphine
I've always really liked this poem (hooray for Gawain!). I really enjoyed James Winny's translation.

Read for my Arthurian Myths and Legends class.
Jennifer (a.k.a The Book Nympho)
Quite enjoyable tale when listened to.
Sergei
Dec 31, 2014 Sergei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a 14th-century chivalric romance about a knight who goes on a quest. Many scholars studied it and gave their interpretations. So to write a decent review I don’t find it possible at the moment.
There are many themes: chivalry and nature, chivalry and loyalty, man and games, and others. Plus symbolism. If you are interested in the Arthurian stories, if you like folklore, if you love drama, fantasy and magic – read it!
It is worth rereading and studying.
Nicole
I'll be honest, I mostly read this to a) fulfill one of the reading challenge prompts, and b) as a fun challenge to try and muddle my way through the Middle English. The story itself makes basically no sense to my modern mind. But I enjoyed the experience of reading it, and that's about what I expected from it.
Gautsho
Väga tore, aga nyyd tahaksin ma teisi tõlkeid ka lugeda, soovitavalt midagi sõnasõnalist või reaalust. Keskinglise keelt oli kõrvalt väga tore veerida, aga veits raske ka (kuid siiski lihtsam kui αρχαία't)(jah, aga see ongi ju uuema aja keel, ju ta ongi arusaadavuselt bytsantsi kreeka keelega samal tasemel) - ilu pärast lugesin seda, aga loo pärast ikka tõlget. Lootsin, et loen selle läbi ja siis on selge, mis värk sir Gawainiga on (kes Ishiguro raamatus seikles jm) ja rahu majas, aga ei, nyyd t ...more
Billy O'Callaghan
Jun 16, 2015 Billy O'Callaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an old one, a 14th century Arthurian romance, though with a much older origin . It's Christmas at Arthur's court, and the knights of the Round Table are enjoying a banquet. In rides a giant green knight (the Green Man?), with a challenge that calls to the floor the courage and integrity of the court. He'll give the first blow to many man, in order to be given the right to reply, a year and a day from this moment.
Looking to make a name for himself, G
...more
Erin  Cosgrove
Nov 25, 2014 Erin Cosgrove rated it really liked it
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of those books you may not be too enthused to read immediately. However, once you get going it's difficult to stop. The poem is beautifully constructed and intriguing along the way. Despite it being a new verse translation, I did initially find some of the terminology a little difficult to understand. Just like the book itself, once you're in this particular groove, it becomes easy to continue.

When I read this, it was for an English class so we were compari
...more
Laura
This book was written in the 14th century, and described to me as a tale of chivalry, which in all honesty didn't sound appealing. I got to read this in its original language, which was both challenging and fulfilling. While there were parts of the story I disliked (e.g. the fact women are basically deemed "evil" temptresses), overall it was an enjoyable read. And how remarkable to think that a book written so many hundreds of years ago is still being read today!
Mladen
Dec 28, 2014 Mladen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jedno od najlepših dela engleske srednjovekovne književnosti. Knjiga bi mogla biti zanimljiva svim ljubiteljima epske fantastike jer je bila inspirativna mnogim piscima (Tolkin je preveo Ser Gavejna na savremeni engleski jezik). Raskošne slike srednjovekovne arturijanske tradicije i odličan primer kako je hrišćanska mitologija usvajala elemente paganske tradicije.
Adam Floridia
Good gravy, the great Gawain and that gigantic Green Knight gave this guy an alliteration glut. (How could I have forgotten about the Alliterative Revival?)

And still,
one other technique is
this whole poetic deal
that the writer uses--
it's called the bob and wheel.

Although a cynical, jaded 2012 reader will likely find some of this a bit pietistic (or corny), it's nice to harken back to the days of chivalry, of chaste knights adamantly defending their beds from lascivious ladies, and of giant green
...more
Mike
Dec 31, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thrift-store gods placed this in my hands knowing it was the perfect thing to read between Christmas and New Year's Day. A fresh telling without a musty passage in sight.
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“And wonder, dread and war
have lingered in that land
where loss and love in turn
have held the upper hand.”
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“Yet though I must lose my life, fear shall never make me change colour.” 5 likes
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