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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  49,613 ratings  ·  1,568 reviews
Written by an anonymous 14th-century poet, this epic poem is recognized as an equal of Chaucer's masterworks and of the great Old English poems, including "Beowulf." This edition includes a Preface by Raffel and a new Introduction. Revised reissue.
Mass Market Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 2001 by Signet Classics (first published 1397)
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Laura I read 3 simultaneously (Tolkein, Armitage (with original text) and the picture book version (Morpurgo?) because I thought they all brought something…moreI read 3 simultaneously (Tolkein, Armitage (with original text) and the picture book version (Morpurgo?) because I thought they all brought something to the table.(less)

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  49,613 ratings  ·  1,568 reviews


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Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James
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
Nov 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
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
...more
Vivian
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,
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Jan-Maat
The season if not of mellow fruitfulness than of frost and fog brings this back to me with the childhood memory of going to school in a proper pea souper, every familiar landmark lost, only the tarmac footpath remained solid beneath my childish feet, occasionally a hut would burst out of the milkiness to demonstrate that I was making progress. My little quest however did not take a year and a day, as all self respecting quests must.

Alas the language is beyond me, I am comfortable with Chaucer
...more
Antonomasia
Simon Armitage translation (Faber & Faber / Norton), and the Oxford edition's notes

I'd half forgotten about Gawain and the Green Knight - and I'd definitely forgotten it was set over Christmas and New Year, until I heard this mid-December episode of In Our Time. As I thought during the programme how bored I now was of Simon Armitage - he's become a very regular fixture on BBC arts shows in the last few years - I didn't expect to end up reading his translation of Gawain. But I looked at a
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Richard Derus
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5* of five

This is the book to get your poetry-resistant friend this #Booksgiving 2017. I read it on a dare. I don't like poetry very much, it's so snooty and at the same time so pit-sniffingly self-absorbed that I'd far rather stab my hands with a fork repeatedly than be condescended to in rhyming couplets.

This tale is fabulous in every sense of the word, which is no surprise since it's survived for so many centuries. But poet and translator Simon Armitage has made the old world new
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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
...more
Ruby Granger
One thing I wasn't expecting in this was such beautifully clear descriptions of landscapes. Perspectives on the bleak winterscapes undulate, moving from terrifying cold to almost beautiful mists. It's really *Sublime*.

One of my favourite lines:
"So the year passes on through its series of yesterdays".
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
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)
I first read this in 1975. I've read it several times since. The translation (Marie Borroff) is good. I am entirely taken in by the parallel structures in the story. Sir Gawain comes off as a wonderfully human character in a type of literature not known for well developed characters.
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
Eddie Watkins
Feb 25, 2009 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
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by an anonymous late 14th Century author is a chivalric romance written in Middle English. But you don’t have to be proficient in Middle English to read it as there are several excellent translations available, including some on line.

This is a delightful Medieval poem about the adventures of Sir Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew. The events occur during two consecutive Christmas seasons and involve a jolly green giant, a beheading, a quest, a journey into the
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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
...more
Piyangie
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a medieval poem by which a one of the stories of Arthurian legend is told. It concerns Sir Gawain, youngest Knight of the Round Table who is also King Arthur's nephew. On a New Year's Eve, a strange green knight enters the court of King Arthur and challenges the knights in to a "beheading game" which challenge, sir Gawain accepts. According to the challenge by the green Knight he was to be beheaded by his axe and whoever accepts the challenge to expect the ...more
Cphe
Thoroughly enjoyed the rousing tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This surprisingly readable story has something for even the most jaded reader. Well worth a look at.
Kathleen
“But mind your mood, Gawain,
keep blacker thoughts at bay,
or loose this lethal game
you’ve promised you will play”


In addition to his own made-up bedtime stories, my father loved to tell us tall tales--sagas of heroes and bravery with fantastic, hard-to-believe aspects that made them special and memorable. Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox Babe stand out in my memory. The fantastical elements, when told in just the right way, bring magic and trepidation that make for a mesmerizing and satisfying story.

...more
Sara
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classics
Shame be to the man who has evil in his mind

Written c. 1375, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an Arthurian quest fantasy. It has all the elements that make such a fantasy work, the brave and redoubted knight, the alluring lady, the magical and mysterious stranger (after all, the Green Knight is able to have his head removed and then hold it in his hand while it talks to you), the ranging quest and the moment of truth.

The poetry is so beautifully written; it sings. I do not know, but I
...more
Thomas
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...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!
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
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Morgan
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are you looking for a quick, but violent, Christmas/New Year's poem? How about a poem set during Camelot with witches and heroic fantasy? Maybe something along the lines of Christian Romance? Or simply a good timeless poem?

After a quick reread I still love this poem. This isn't the original translation or edition I read, but it felt the same...maybe a little more modern with the language. I'd forgotten how detailed this was and how violent. I remembered some of the plot, but forgot about all
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Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction)
I actually can't believe how much I loved this! I was looking forward to it, but something about it just enchanted me entirely.
Roy Lotz
Though I have read this little tale twice now, and have been enchanted both times, I fear I have very little to say about it. The plot combines traditional tropes together in such a way that the story is instantly memorable; and the double action of the knightly pact and a bedroom temptation seems to neatly summarize the twin pillars of chivalric morality—manly combat and womanly tenderness. Literature professors can argue endlessly about the finer symbolism of the book; and general readers can, ...more
Cindy Rollins
I have read Tolkien's Sir Gawain translation many times and will probably read it again this month for our book club, but this poetic translation by Simon Armitage is outstanding in my unscholarly opinion. Perhaps it was the suberb narration. You could really imagine this as a poem that was recited over and over again around those rings of fire. Bill Wallis not only read the translation in a lilting northern accent but then he turned around and read the original.

I found the whole experience
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imts
"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.
Jon Nakapalau
A foundational legend that has influenced many other works. One of the best examinations of what chivalry was meant to represent...and for that reason a very important work.
Olivia-Savannah  Roach
For what it's worth, this is such a good story! And it makes for such a good moral message about chivalry and honor while also discussing human weakness and how we all have our faults and misgivings too. It was such a creative, and magical story. The descriptions were lovely, and you can tell this was well written.

What would have made me enjoy it more: if I was reading a translation. However, as this was a read for uni, we had to translate it ourselves. And as this was my first encounter with
...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Wha an absolutely eloquent poem! I chose Audi so I heard both modern English and old English. Poet had a strong grasp of alliteration, which made flow just beautiful. Description puts some modern poetry to shame: the sounds of the axe heads, the beauty of the lady's shoulders. It was so gory I read it twice.
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.
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861 followers
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.
“And wonder, dread and war
have lingered in that land
where loss and love in turn
have held the upper hand.”
20 likes
“Yet though I must lose my life, fear shall never make me change colour.” 7 likes
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