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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Hardcover – 4 Jan 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First Edition edition (4 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571223273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571223275
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.5 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Armitage rises to the challenge of translating this mysterious tale of chivalry, supernatural forces and seduction.' -- Sunday Times

'Crisp, fun and true to its original alliterative rhythm.' -- Sunday Herald

'It might even be the best translation of any poem I've ever seen.' -- Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Paperback Choice of the Week

'With deceptively simple lyricism and energy the poem sings from the page.'
-- Observer

Book Description

A fantastic revival of an arthurian classic from on of Britain's foremost contemporary poets.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Jonathan Birch VINE VOICE on 29 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like The Iliad, which I have also read recently, this work is timeless. Or at least, it is when translated into modern idiom as well as Simon Armitage has done here.
The story is surprisingly subtle. Gawain is a “Master of the Universe” in the same sense as Sherman McCoy was in 1980s New York. Related by blood to King Arthur himself, he is physically strong and beautiful. He has all the knightly virtues. Fearless on the jousting field with courtly manners, he prides himself on his ease and learned conversation with the court ladies. He is held in high regard at Camelot and clearly holds himself in high regard.
Just as Sherman was taken out of his comfort zone, so is Gawain. The mysterious Green Knight crashes into the Round Table’s new year’s eve celebrations and Gawain finds himself entangled in an impossible duel.
Gawain does not shirk. He intends to meet his obligations, even though they can only lead to his death. He enters into bargain with another man he meets on his quest, but this bargain he does not keep to the letter. Offered a token that will save his life in the upcoming meeting with the Green Knight, he takes it and keeps it, even though this is owed, under the terms of the bargain he made, to the other man.
The Green Knight spares Gawain, leaving him with a scar on his neck to remind him of his insincerity. It is all done in good humour, but Gawain knows that his knightly honour has been compromised. He returns to Camelot a diminished man and his scar is a further symbol of the corruption that is at the heart of Camelot and will eventually bring it down.
The beauty of the poem is in its humour and understatement. Gawain is not a bad man. He is proud and unthinking, and he is trying to live to an honour code that is almost impossible to keep.
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