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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

on 31 May 2012
The works in this book are widely acknowledged of one of the most beautiful verse in Middle English. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, in particular, share beautiful ornate language that paints vivid pictures of the scenery. Pearl, moreover, contains one of the most sentimental portrayals of grief and is heart-breaking at points. It is certainly worth reading in the original.

This particular edition was recommended to me by my tutor at university and I found it especially helpful. The editor, J. J. Anderson, has added useful notes to help you understand the text better than you would yourself at first glance.
Moreover, it is one of the few versions which provide all the works by the Gawain-poet (or Pearl-poet) together.

It is a real shame the book is out of print and only available second hand, given that it is such a widely used and recommended text for students.
(Another great edition for Pearl, is that by E. V. Gordon.)
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on 24 March 2015
Absolute must buy for students and readers alike. Really the only good study edition of Gawain that I can find.
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on 4 April 2016
Wonderful book.
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on 14 September 2010
This edition is what I wanted but it took a lot of searching. Most editions now are translated for the modern reader, which misses the beauty of the original. This appears to be an authoritative edition which superseded the one (Tolkein) which I studied in college. It is well supported with notes and glosses and I like them on the page rather than having to turn to the end. The design is well done, so if you want to read just the poem and not be distracted by the transcriptions, you can just put a piece of paper over them, or just ignore them. You have the sense of the original plus support if you need it. This is a much better method than the Worlds Classics editions which drive one distracted with numbers in the text referring to notes at the back of the edition.

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.
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2009
I don't have the technical expertise of previous reviewers to comment on the quality of the critical apparatus of this edition; however I would point out that its double page layout worked well for me as a fourteen year old reader - the glosses given enabled me to read most of the poem without reference to the footnotes, but when I struggled, the fact that they were in verse meant that I didn't find the interruption to the flow of the poem so jarring. Substituting modern poetry (however imperfect) for the original is still less of a contrast than dry, factual, prose.

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.
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on 14 August 2017
An Arthurian poem, good to read/compare with Malory and Tennyson.
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on 4 January 2006
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.
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on 15 October 2009
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 the mood of love.
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on 2 January 2002
The story of this poem is pretty weird: Arthur's knights are eating their Christmas dinner when a hefty green man (why is he green? I've no idea!) walks in and challenges one of the knights to a duel. The poem follows Gawain, the knight who takes up the challenge, as he travels, in classic Arthurian fashion, through a wood, where he gets lost. A castle appears, Gawain goes in, and the kind host suggests offers him a bed for the knight: the bed in which his (the host's) daughter sleeps. We later learn that this host is the green man, disguised, and his offer is designed to test Gawain. Though Gawain is tempted, he keeps to his side of the bed, and travels on to meet the green man for a beheading game, unaware that he has already passed the test.
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.)
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on 1 June 2001
Having studied a lot of medieval writing at university I was pleased to find something as fresh as Gawain and the Green Knight. There are so many levels to read this book on. You can look into all the allusions and the imagery, or you can read for pure enjoyment of the action in the story. The narrative is clear and even though it is written in an old style of English it does not take long to get into that way of thinking - it is not difficult to understand. I would recommend this to all lovers of good fiction, and tales of knights of old!
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