Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sir Gawain and The Green Knight ” as Want to Read:
Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  39,956 Ratings  ·  1,031 Reviews
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is probably the most skillfuly told story in the whole of the English Arthurian cycle. Originating from the north-west midlands of England, it is based on two ancient Celtic motifs--the Beheading and the Exchange of Winnings--brought together by the anonymous 14th century author. Acclaimed poet Keith Harrison's new translation uses a modern ...more
Paperback, 109 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1390)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
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,
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
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
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!
"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)"


Anyway, I reread Simon Arm
the tenth muse
"Yet though I must lose my life, fear shall never make me change colour."

Those of you who have read my reviews on poetry will know that I do not particularly take to it. The plot of this poem was really good - for which I gave the three stars - but I'm not one to judge the fact that it was written in poetry form in the first place.
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
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
Sep 22, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Refreshing, Poetic Translation of Old Fable

I didn't fully appreciate this when I read it 25 years ago. This poetic and refreshing new translation makes the fantastic fable easily accessible without watering down the tale's mysticism or sacrificing its bite.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Jan 24, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Quite enjoyable tale when listened to.
Robert Sheard
Oct 01, 2016 Robert Sheard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new translation of the Middle English poem is terrific. Armitage has done for Gawain what Seamus Heaney did for Beowulf.
Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is certainly a very modern one. I think it's important to remember, when reading anything in translation, that nothing is immune to the translator's own views and intentions. This is especially apparent in translations like Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, and this translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but it's always the case. Even when it's a group of undergrads doing awkward prose translations -- I always use the ...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
Sep 16, 2016 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it twice in a week and still haven't wrapped my brain around the whole thing. ^.^
Erin  Cosgrove
Nov 25, 2014 Erin Cosgrove rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book Talk: Green Knight = Satan or God? 1 4 Nov 18, 2014 03:15PM  
Studi Tolkieniani: il Cavaliere Verde diventa un fumetto 3 7 Jul 02, 2013 08:38AM  
  • Arthurian Romances
  • The Lais of Marie de France
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table
  • The Arthurian Encyclopedia
  • King Arthur's Death: The Middle English Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Alliterative Morte Arthure
  • Idylls of the King
  • Parzival
  • Piers Plowman
  • The Táin: From the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge
  • The Faerie Queene
  • The History of the Kings of Britain
  • Tristan: With the Tristran of Thomas
  • The Letters of Abélard and Héloïse
  • The Romance of Tristan
  • Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from the Metamorphoses
  • The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology
Books can be attributed to "Unknown" when the author or editor (as applicable) is not known and cannot be discovered. If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using "Unknown".

Books whose authorship is purposefully withheld should be attributed instead to Anonymous.
More about Unknown...

Share This Book

“And wonder, dread and war
have lingered in that land
where loss and love in turn
have held the upper hand.”
“Yet though I must lose my life, fear shall never make me change colour.” 6 likes
More quotes…