Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
The fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the greatest classics of English literature, but one of the least accessible to most twentieth-century readers. This new edition of the poem offers the original text together with a facing-page translation; editor James Winny provides a non-alliterative a...more
Anyway, you probably all know the story: Arthur is about to have a New Year's feast, but accordin...more
All of which doesn’t seem strictly relevant, except that I can’t help feeling that there’s something slightly self-conscious a...more
Why now? Because I wanted to read Simon Armitage's notes on translatio...more
The story is about a beheading test--the Green Knight challenges Gawain to exchange beheadings. Gawain will behead the Green Knight now, and then undergo the same thing a year hence...more
I imagine if you’re interested in quests and bravery and peril this poem is pretty top notch.
Quests, bravery and peril are not my cup of tea.
I wanted more supernatural drama with the Green Knight and less courtship and hunting (though like a creep I enjoyed the detailed doe-, boar- and fox-gutting passages).
I found the pageantry of knighthood both tedious and fascinating. It was like reading Lucky magazine; no tassel or surface on a knight suit went unnoticed. Same goes for the detai...more
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
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
When everything is done, and Gawain completes his quest, and the moral aspects of the story are dealt with (truth, honour, keeping word, resisting temptation etc), the Green Knight reveals the identity of the Old Woman in his castle as none other than Morgana le Fey, Arthur's mortal enemy and practitioner of Black Magic- who...more
This medieval poem from approximately 1350 represents one of the earliest pieces of literature extent in prototype English. At first glance the manuscript, housed in a special collection at the British Museum, appears to be in a foreign language; it is characterized by archaic spelling and specialized vocabulary known mainly to medieval scholars. But conscientious study proves rewarding; scholars may view the birth of English, or at...more
The 'modern' translations are often criticised for lack of textual fidelity to the original - and it's certainly true that some of Armitage's phrasing is startlingly non-medieval. But translations will always bear the mark of their translator and th...more
Opening lines comparison:
Brian Stone's of the Penguin, 1959.
"The siege and the assault being ceased at Troy,
The battlements broken down and burnt to brands and ashes,
The treacherous trickster whose treasons there flourished
Was famed for his falsehood, the foulest on earth."
He preserves the alliteration rather nicely.
W.S. Merwin's of Knopf, 2002.
"Since the siege and the assault upon Troy were finished,
The city destroyed and burned down to embers and ashes,
And the man who made the...more
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...more
The narration was indeed flawless but I guess maybe it's just my soft spot for Middle Age English where thou's and ye's are common (is my history correct?). This just actually part of the collection of stories and adventures about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, full of chivalry and valor of course. Along the way, it got predictable considering my background with books in the adventure/mystery genre. But, for me,...more
I go the book at an ol...more
In earlier times, the likes of King Arthur and Robyn Hood bore the weight of moral leadership for the wide-eyed imaginations of the youth of pre-comic book generations. What hero is more daring, honest, and virtuous than a knight? What parent...more
This is a beautiful book with two wonderful versions of a great tale, but I found one thing frustrating. Although I appreciate Armitage's gifts and the readable new version of the poem, one of the biggest benefits of a facing-page...more
Not that I can read the original, of course, so I have to take Armitage's word for it that it's as good as his translation, which I did like. This edition has the original...more
The story, familiar to many, is exquisitely told and the characters are charming and lively. The descri...more
This story, first told in the late fourteenth century, is one of the most enthralling, enigmatic and beloved poems in the English language. Simon Armitage's new version is meticulously responsive to the tact, sophistication and dramatic intensity of the original. It is as if, six hundred years apart, two northern poets set out on a journey through the same m...more
The images are very intense, and incise themselves in one's mind. The translation into latter-day English leans a lot on alliteration, mirroring the method of the original maker. The original Middle English used such a technique of rhymed but alliterative verse, only ending in rhyme at the end of each part. For the most part the translation is quite effective, only once in a while sounding forced; the original, I suspect*, was more artless and direct. (I am quite t...more
I very much enjoyed reading this. Poetry is hard to translate; either exact word for word translating or the rhyme and meter must be sacrificed. Armitage choose to keep the strong alliteration.
This edition has a strong introduction, a note on Middle...more
Books whose authorship is purposefully withheld should be attributed instead to Anonymous.