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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  34,830 ratings  ·  855 reviews
'Sir Gawain and The Green Knight' is probably the most skilfully told story in the whole of the English Arthurian cycle. Acclaimed poet Keith Harrison's verse translation uses a modern alliterative pattern which subtly echoes the music of the original at the same time as it strives for fidelity.
Paperback, 109 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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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
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Thomas
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
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
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
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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.
Lauren
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
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
Sergei
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.
Erin  Cosgrove
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
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Mladen
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
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.
David Withun
The anonymous fourteenth century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tells the story of a member of Arthur's Round Table who is faced with certain death at the hands of an incredibly large and diabolical Green Knight. As the knights are celebrating the Feast of Christmas one New Year's Day, the Green Knight enters the castle with a challenge: he will allow one of the knights to strike him with a battle axe, but the knight must allow himself to be struck with it by the Green Knight in return. Af ...more
Mary Overton
Ah, those dangerous women! The Arthurian romance is replete with wily ladies. A particularly fetching one in this adventure almost lures Sir Gawain into adultery. He remains virtuous but afterward shakes his head and confesses:

“But no marvel it is if made be a fool,
and by the wiles of woman to woe be brought.
For even so Adam by one on earth was beguiled,
and Solomon by several, and to Samson moreover
his doom by Delilah was dealt; and David was after
blinded by Bathsheba, and he bitterly suffered.
N
...more
Lincoln
I read “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” translated by Burton Raffel. This narrative poem is about the Green Knight who travels to Camelot to challenge King Arthur to a game.

The main characters of this narrative poem are Sir Gawain, a knight that serves for his king. King Arthur, the king of Camelot. The Green Knight, who chooses to travel all the way to Camelot to test the chivalry of the king.

In this book, The Green Knight travels to Camelot to play a beheading game. At first, he challenges Ki
...more
Georgia Radtke
I did not enjoy the story 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight'. Books that are fiction do not grab my attention. When reading a book, I like to relate to what’s going on. This story is organized by a series of main events that all lead up to be giant set up. As the story continues, Sir Gawain turns out not being the honorable knight he claimed to be.

Through out this story Sir Gawain has to complete certain tasks in order to finish the game he started. The game delt with beheading each other, Sir
...more
Tyler
A strange green knight strides in, and proposes a challenge, a game of sorts. To complete the arrangement of the challenge, a knight must strike him and attempt to kill him, if he fails the knight will pay back in kind. A swing for a swing. At first, Arthur is prepared to accept the game, but Gawain is determined to take part in Arthur’s stead. Gawain strikes the head off of the green knight but the knight does not die and instead picks up his head and speaks to the knights of the round table. G ...more
Lemar
This is a fun read, Simon Armitage has captured the spirit of a great story enjoyed through the ages and rendered a translation from Middle English that also stays faithful to the architecture of the original, no easy feat! He says in his introduction that, "all poetry in Anglo-Saxon is alliterative. Only after the Norman Conquest and the impact of French did poets writing in English begin to use rhyme as a fundamental part of their metrical practice". For my taste he went a little too far in th ...more
Jan-Maat
Alas the language is beyond me - maybe if I knew some Norse or Danish I would find it easier. But this edition does have a fine cover illustration which takes you to the heart of the matter.

I can recommend the Simon Armitage translation to the curious reader.
Morgan Wilson
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” was a narrative poem that had many elements of chivalry, love, loyalty, and destruction. This poem is a story of how a mysterious Green Knight rides into King Arthur's court and challenges any knight brave enough to a dual. This consists of one knight beheading the green knight. If the green knight lives, he will come back a year and a day later to do the same to that knight. Sir Gawain steps up and accepts this challenge in place of King Arthur. Sir Gawain soon ...more
Apribbernow

I read “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight” translated by Marie Borroff. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a romantic poem that was composed sometime in the 14th century depicting an event in the time of the 7th century during King Arthur’s reign. A New Years festival in Arthur’s Kingdom is interrupted by a large green Knight who is sitting on a green steed. He first asks where the host of the party is and then proceeds to make a proposition of a New Year’s beheading game. When no one steps up
...more
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  • Arthurian Romances
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • The Lais of Marie de France
  • Idylls of the King
  • Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table
  • The History of the Kings of Britain
  • Piers Plowman
  • The Death of King Arthur
  • Tristan: With the Tristran of Thomas
  • Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  • Parzival
  • The Arthurian Encyclopedia
  • The Earliest English Poems
  • The Faerie Queene
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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.” 4 likes
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