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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab
If you only show your children one poem, make sure it's this one. The touching and powerful Arthurian legend is brought to life miraculously in this rendition by Simon Armitage, which (unlike previous translations) will never leave you scratching your head and saying "What does that mean?" Despite retaining the strange and lovely alliterative verse of the original, the...
Published on 29 Mar 2008 by Jonathan Birch

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lean
Despite being a (former) English student and current English teacher, I have to honestly admit to finding this unfulfilling. I was very excited upon receiving this for Christmas, as I am both a fan of Armitage's work and genuinely attracted to older texts. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the poet's translation, and it is very accessible, however I just found it dull...
Published on 15 April 2012 by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab, 29 Mar 2008
By 
Jonathan Birch (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
If you only show your children one poem, make sure it's this one. The touching and powerful Arthurian legend is brought to life miraculously in this rendition by Simon Armitage, which (unlike previous translations) will never leave you scratching your head and saying "What does that mean?" Despite retaining the strange and lovely alliterative verse of the original, the poem is lucid, accessible, fresh and modern. Here is a poem for ordinary people, not just Medievalists and English students.

Armitage adds a nice introduction, suggesting how we can find a contemporary resonance in the poem. Gawain's story is not merely an exploration of Christian morality, but also, through vivid imagery of the natural world, aims to remind us of our own relationship with our nature and with nature as we find it all around us. The Green Knight is green for a reason (he thinks).
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muscular and modern revival, 27 Jan 2007
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TR (Suffolk, UK) - See all my reviews
A terrific book. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an early classic of English Literature - lost until the 19th century. This is a very readable, witty, bright translation with Simon Armitage's customary edge. In places: warm, funny, violent, dramatic, sexual. I've long been a big fan of Armitage - a Yorkshire writer who uses language brilliantly and has proved to be extremely versatile as poet, editor, playwright, novelist, non-fiction prose stylist and more recently translator. His Homer's Odyssey was a pleasure; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a delight. This would make a great Christmas present (much of the setting is Christmas/New Year) for anyone who enjoys literature.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seen the BBC Four documentary? Now read the book!, 6 Jun 2009
This review is from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback)
"...It was Christmas at Camelot - King Arthur's Court,
where the great and the good of the land had gathered .."

Hopefully the recent - and excellent - BBC Four documentary in which Simon Armitage guided viewers on a journey through the literal landscape of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will have brought this poem to the attention of a wider audience.

This book works at every possible level: it's a wonderful translation from the Middle English of the 1400's, it's a rollickingly exciting tale of chivalry, drama and moral dilemma, and, most significantly, it stands as poetry in its own right.

One word of warning: your friends will inevitably soon regard you as dotty, as the book just cries out to be read aloud!

Impossible to recommend strongly enough!
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling, 10 Feb 2007
Thoroughly enjoyable, muscular, vivid, exciting rendition of this wonderful poem: I first read the original at university and loved it then. But Armitage's modernisation brings the text to life for those readers who aren't ever going to need or want to tackle Middle English. I can't recommend it too highly. It is beautifully paced, extremely detailed and accessible without in any way dumbing down. I really felt as though I was in the poem, particularly in the third and fourth sections where Gawain faces a moral dilemma.

Terrific. Simon Armitage is the true Poet Laureate of Britain, bringing our literary heritage to a fresh audience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 1 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback)
I first encountered Sir Gawain at school, and although the English was hard the underlying story fabulous to uncover. 35 years have intervened - and I never gave Sir Gawain a thought again until it inexplicably re-entered my consciousness a few weeks ago. I trawled - and bought this translation and was immediately captivated by the clarity of this portal into the story. The modern English language still captures the essence of the medieval, and the tongue-twisting alliteration a joy to read (and read aloud!).

With sorrow, I finished the poem, only to find that I had the previous day missed a repeat on BBC4 of a programme by Simon Armitage on the journey of Sir Gawain! How bizarre can that be - it's not crossed my mind for 35 years, and then in the very week I read it again there is a programme by its author! Thankfully, BBC iplayer came to the rescue, and after viewing the programme, I promptly started to re-read the poem to discover new delights. This is a tale worth reading, and re-reading again - since every reading uncovers new details and new wonders at the use of the language.

Simon Armitage has done English literature a massive service via this masterpiece, and I commend this volume to anybody who has read a previous version, anybody who saw the BBC4 programme, and anybody who wants an effortless romp through medieaval humour, chivalry, symbolism, lust, human fraility and moral dilemmas. And don't put it back on the shelf afterwards - keep it handy, because you can always dip-in at random for some choice passages or start from the beginning again and discover new gems.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 16 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback)
I had previously read this poem, as many of us have, as an English student crawling through the very difficult Middle English with the aid of a rather pedestrian prose translation. I then re-read it in the rather prettied-up Penguin translation, which just jettisons the alliteration. Armitage's translation restores all the original joy of a poem designed to be read out loud to a roomful of people. I imagine them bursting out laughing at some of the wordplay, slapping their thighs as they take another swig of mead. Somehow the bizarre mix of Norman courtly love, British-Germanic warrior story (just look at the details of how to butcher an animal), Christian myth and pagan folk tale works, and we end up with a funny, exciting and immensely energetic story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent attempt on the impossible!, 12 May 2011
By 
Bertilak Hautdesert "Bertilak" (Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback)
Simon's transliteration has the grit, the feeling for landscape and the indefinable taste of "Northernness" of the original. Unfortunately it's a bit like trying to copy Grinling Gibbons' carvings with a chain saw and a Dremmel: the craftsmanship may be there, but the nuances and energy of the original simply cannot be copied using our much depleted tool box of language. Read Simon's work for the wonderful, sexy human story. But please attempt the difficult but hugely rewarding original by this anonymous hero of English literature. Oh, and try Pearl, an exquisitely worked jewel of a poem from the same manuscript.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great edition of a great tale, 24 May 2009
By 
E. Lawrence (London) - See all my reviews
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Loved this book. Great tale and appealing translation. The cover is very pleasing too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 30 Jan 2009
A fabulous translation into modern English which is a pleasure to read but also resonant and powerfully suggestive of the original, a treat over Christmas time or indeed any time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 12 Jun 2010
By 
BA Moore - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Paperback)
A compelling and complex tale, beautifully rendered in modern English by Simon Armitage, and instantly accessible. Great stuff for all but the academic purist.
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage (Paperback - 5 Mar 2009)
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