Sir Gawain And The Green Knight/Pearl/Cleanness/Patience (Everyman's Library (Paper)) Paperback – 3 Jun 1996
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SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT is one of the most important alliterative poems of Medieval literature
About the Author
Dr J. J. Anderson is Honorary Research Fellow, formerly Senior Lecturer in English language, in the University of Manchester. His interests and publications are chiefly in the fields of medieval literature and early English drama.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was really pleased to see that the first poem is "Pearl" as it is this I bought it for, having, in my retirement a hankering to read it again. I just took off one star because the paper quality is a bit rough. However I am very pleased with it. Thank you Amazon.
However, athough "Gawain and the Green Knight" takes up over half the book, it is not the only poem considered. The other two are very different. Whereas 'Gawain' has a Christianised setting into which pagan, mythological elements repeatedly intrude, "Pearl" is an extended Christian allegory meditating on love and mourning. The soul of the dead child is "the pearl of great price" from the New Testament parable, for which the grieving father would give all that he had. The last of the three is an explicit meditation on the Christian virtue. ("Cleanliness" should be thought of as 'purity' in this context.)
The complex imagery and lack of narrative structure make these other two poems much harder work to read. The "glossary & free composition" approach of this edition serves these poems less well; one does feel the need of a more detailed textual analysis.
For me, the particular merit of this edition lies in the juxtaposition of the three poems. I would probably never have bought the other two poems if they had been published seperately; yet together the three poems together complement each other. They demonstrate the range of styles and diversity of subject matter and genre available to Middle English audiences.
The poem is a combination of two mediaeval stories: the beheading challenge, and the temptation story (an good example of the latter, with a misogynistic twist at the end, can be found in 'Three Arthurian Romances', also in Everyman paperback). The poet (we don't know his name) has combined them in a sophisticated way: so that Gawain triumphs not through his bravery, but his morality. (This is itself a twist, because Gawain was usually depicted as a womaniser!)
There are a number of translations of this poem into modern English, but, needless to say, a lot is lost in translation. (The poet for example, has invented or mastered a form that mixes alliterative verse -- using repeated consonants -- with rhyming verse.) The Everyman edition gives the poem in the original, but has helpful glosses of all the strange words that crop up in this strange poem. (It also includes two other poems which might have been written by the same poet.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This review is concerns the quality of the physical book - not the text!
Everyman used to produce books that were good quality and a pleasure to hold and read - this... Read more
Absolute must buy for students and readers alike. Really the only good study edition of Gawain that I can find.Published 17 months ago by Other J
The works in this book are widely acknowledged of one of the most beautiful verse in Middle English. Read morePublished on 31 May 2012 by Delia
This is a must for all lovers of medieval literature. Clearly written and understandable, it transports you back to a time when psychological allegory was important in explaining... Read morePublished on 15 Oct. 2009 by Ms. L. C. Cousins