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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 5 Nov 1998

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Paperback, 5 Nov 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (5 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192833340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192833341
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1.3 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,518,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Oxford World's Classics edition offers students an excellent introduction to this classic text and also important notes and chronologies.

About the Author

Australian born-poet and translator, Keith Harrison taught for 30 years at Carleton College, Minnesota. He has published many books of poetry and translation including Points in a Journey (Macmillan), The Basho Poems (Minneapolis) and A Burning of Applewood (Northfield, Black Willow). Helen Cooper is Professor of English Language and Literature, and Tutorial Fellow at University College, Oxford. She is the editor of Malory's Le Morte Darthur in the Oxford World's Classics series.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I agree with everything the previous reviewer has said about the poem itself, but this Oxford version is a rather loose translation that explicates much that is left either vaguer or more poetically-expressed in the original. As such, it's ok as a crib for students but is a little misleading in terms of the text. For the general reader, though, that's probably not a problem but I personally prefer the Penguin edition (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Classics)) for anyone who isn't comfortable with the original C14th English.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like an earlier review, this one relates to the quality of the Kindle edition of this book. While the issue regarding `hyperlinks to the endnotes' (noted by the earlier reviewer) appears to have been resolved, there is a fundamental problem regarding the formatting of the text: as whole lines are either partially obscured at the bottom of the page, or they have only their top half visible (often only the masts of `h''s and `l''s of the bottom line are visible), so that effectively we have a supposedly excellent text ruined by sloppy, incompetent formatting.

The issue of poor transformation of literary texts to Kindle formats is a common one, which is particularly evident with poetic texts:

A common problem is one in which the text of a poem is inset from the left margin by well over a centimetre (or more, dependant on the font setting - given that the Kindle screen is only 6 inches in diameter, any loss of screen space is going to compromise the reading experience), leaving often a large part of one half of the Kindle screen blank. This ensures that a line of poetry is then spread over several lines, disrupting the appreciation of the verse, and making the reading experience extremely unpleasant.

This is particularly evident in the Penguin Kindle edition of `Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene,' an expensive Kindle book, which, while it is sold as a Kindle product is actually (as I was informed by an Amazon operative) formatted for Computer screens and I Pads.

The Penguin Kindle edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is formatted in a similarly clumsy manner, and makes just as unpleasant a reading experience.
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By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 4 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Middle English is a diverse collection of different dialects and styles, when it comes to literature. At the same time that Chaucer was writing in the southeast of England, with good command of French and Italian poetic sensibilities, there was a strong tradition in the north and west country of alliterative poetry, the kind that owed as much to the Old English forms of verse and use of language as to the new influences post-Norman Conquest-wise. Among the products of this time and place, the anonymously composed 'Sir Gawain and Green Knight' is one of the most outstanding.
This poem has all the hallmarks of being a work of many influences - it has the heroic aspects that one might expect from Old English epics such as Beowulf; it has a decided romantic streak reminiscent of French and Norman influences; it has virtue and church/Christian overlaying influences that come from Latin and ecclesial sources; it has magical and mystical ideas that are most likely Celtic in origin. Perhaps more like a tapestry, the various strands of influence are woven together into a glorious pattern that stands as a towerig achievement of the synthesis of language that Middle English achieved between its Germanic and Latinate streams.
Gawain's story is a very popular one. The most virtuous of the Round Table knights, his bravery and his resourcefulness at seeking the Green Knight, the annual challenger at the court of Arthur, is legendary. Gawain's small fault (and indeed, Gawain was portrayed as a virtuous human, but human nonetheless) warrants a very small penalty, but he is deemed upon reporting back to Camelot that he has brought honour upon the whole fellowship of knights. There is something magical about the Green Knight, however, and this can be seen as metaphor for the way in which temptation seems to have a magical power over humanity.
This is a good study edition, with a good translation and good notes for the student and scholar to follow.
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