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SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT is one of the most important alliterative poems of Medieval literature...

Title : Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience
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ISBN : 9780460875103
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience Reviews

  • Robert
    2019-04-16 02:11

    PearlPreviously familiar to me from Tolkien's translation.It's tough going for the uninitiated, using original spelling (i.e. thorn, yogh, "u" for "v" etc.) and the dialect makes it even more difficult. I found it harder going even than Piers Plowman which itself is more demanding than Chaucer's dialect.The poem is a dream-vision, as is Piers Plowman. Such visions also occur in Middle English Romances, e.g. the Sege of Melayne but they are of starkly contrasting nature. Piers and Pearl are both pious works, tackling serious theological questions and inhabiting a Christian space of serious reflection on Jesus' moral message, where-as the Romances tend towards psychopathic mass murder of Saracens/Muslims as the way to go if you want to get to heaven...Here the author describes a man finding comfort in a dream of his recently deceased young daughter having come to Heaven and everlasting joy. It seems more tender and personal than Piers, leading many to assume that the dreamer and the dead girl are in fact the author and his daughter. It's also more accessible than Piers in that the theological discussions are at least conducted in (Middle) English as opposed to the continual Latin Biblical quotes of Piers - it's also a lot shorter!Whilst I feel that the author is essentially telling himself a fairy tale in order to assuage his own grief, I can appreciate his feelings of love and loss and unfairness and they are set down in a way that sounds delightful if you can get your ear well enough attuned.CleannessI enjoyed this a lot more than Pearl. It's more or less a sermon on the necessity for "cleneness" of spirit if one wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, illustrated by three Old Testament tales; Noah and the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah and finally The Writing on the Wall. Not being Christian, the framing sermon is of little interest to me, but the Bible stories were great, because of the way they were re-told. The poet feels no need to restrict himself to the limits of the source and adds details and imagery from both common folklore and his own imagination. These add a great deal and show off the author's impressive descriptive powers - powers that did not really shine through in Pearl because of its very limited and oft repeated palette of metaphor. Here, however, diverse and vivid imagery abounds, along with little details that delight, e.g. the idea of Lot's wife being used as a salt lick by cattle after she foolishly turns to look at the destruction of the cities behind her.PatienceThe shortest of the four poems in the manuscript has more in common with Cleanness than the other two, since it follows the same format of a sermon followed by an "examplum" Biblical story. Here we have the tale of Jonah retold in the same style as the stories appearing in Cleanness, with embellishments, delightful imagery (sailors holding Jonah's feet while the whale has his head in its mouth stands out) and a verve that lacks in the original source. I would strongly recommend starting here rather than with Pearl if you want to find out how good the Gawain Poet can be.Sir Gawain and the Green KnightThis is, of course, the main event; what brought me to be reading this book in the first place. Twice as long as the next longest poem in the manuscript, in four parts and comprised of 101 stanzas. It's fundamentally different in approach to the other three poems. It's neither a dream-vision nor a sermon with exempla. Instead it is a Romance. No, not one of those preposterous billionaire alpha-hole marries shy and retiring introvert romances, a knights and ladies and preposterous adventures Romance. It is, however, still deeply informed by Christianity. Going by the extant Middle English poetry, there were really two major strands of Christian philosophy in the Mediaeval period. One was a gung-ho "we're better than everyone else and we'll slaughter you if you disagree in order to prove it," approach as exemplified by Romances such as The Sege of Melayne, in which the clergy form their own army to fight Saracen invaders. Another was a philosophical and introspective approach involving serious Bible study with a focus on the moral teachings of Jesus in particular, as exemplified by the lengthy Piers Plowman. Now, Gawain and the Green Knight has all the trappings of a Romance, what with a giant green knight with a green horse who can survive being beheaded turning up at King Arthur's Court, cavemen living in the wilds, a mysterious castle in the back of beyond and a witch who lives there, but it also clearly takes Christianity more seriously than just a tribal label to fight for, "My God is better than your God!"This is first advertised fairly early on by the symbolism of the pentagram on Gawain's shield and the portrait of the Virgin Mary on its inside, then made clear when Gawain, despairing of ever finding the Green Chapel, mired in the wilds, suffering from being away from civilisation for months and running out of time, prays to Mary and finds an unfamiliar castle soon after. But the whole adventure is a series of tests. The over-arching requirement to attend an appointment with what one can reasonably only expect to be one's own death is a test of honour and bravery and the quest to find the Green Chapel is a test of commitment in the face of physical suffering and danger, with no guarantee of success, that is only passed through an act of Christian faith. (The prayer to Mary.) After arriving at Bertilak's castle and being assured that the Green Chapel is nearby and he can rest and relax, Gawain is in fact even more thoroughly morally examined. He's wooed continuously by Bertilak's wife and tempted to cheat on a silly game he's agreed to play with Bertilak. The temptation is enormous because it could turn out to be the only way Gawain can survive beyond the next day - and he succumbs to speaking a lie in order to try to preserve his own life. Gawain passes every test he's put through except this one. All of this is about faith, Christian and chivalric virtue and courtly manners, not about conquering the infidel in the name of the Lord. This, in the context of three other poems that treat themes of faith and personal virtue as the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven leads me to the strong conviction that what we have here is a deliberate and conscious subversion of the populist, xenophobic, intolerant and mostly plain silly Romance form to the ends of serious Christian moral instruction, written by a devout believer. Which leads to the question of what lesson we are supposed to learn.In the introduction, Andrews and Waldron point out that there are three views expressed about Gawain's lie/cheat in the swapping game:Gawain's own view is that it is a disaster that has ruined his honour forever. Whilst he ruefully complains about how women through history have tempted men to ruin, with examples such as Adam and Eve and Sampson and Delilah (note - Biblical cases) he also says he is going to openly wear the girdle that cost him his honour as an antidote to future pride and a spur to greater humility. He doesn't seem to be seriously saying the moral fault lies with anybody but himself. And it's a major fault.Bertilak, instigator of this whole series of events, who openly admits that they were deliberately intended as a test of Arthur's court and it's reputation, is more forgiving. He says that Gawain's lie/cheat was trivial in the circumstances and fully repaid by the cut to the neck Gawain received (which it's later hinted leaves a permanent scar). That was punishment enough, given the threat to Gawain's life and his passing of all the more serious tests. Gawain should forget about it - he and Arthur's court are vindicated.Finally, the knights back home take the view that the whole adventure redounds greatly and solely to the benefit of the reputation of Arthur's court and don't take the girdle incident at all seriously.Who was right? What did the Pearl Poet think? Tolkien, in the intro to his translation, infers that the point is that courtly manners are entirely secondary to genuine Christian morals and that the fact that Gawain is not seduced by Bertilak's wife is what really counts. This might well be true. The Poet certainly never overtly states an opinion to the contrary. I can't help thinking, though, that the fact that Gawain wears the girdle as a reminder of past failure is actually the key lesson, because it fits so well with what is going on in the other poems. What Gawain learns is greater humility and not to pride himself on his honour but to try to do better in the future. Striving for self-improvement and forgiveness of past failure are major moral tenets of non-fundamentalist interpretations of Jesus' message and that's what happens: Bertilak forgives and Gawain goes forward trying to do better in future. Overview of the whole bookWow! I knew this was going to be a challenge but didn't think it could be tougher than Piers Plowman. In fact the only ways in which Piers was harder were in over-all length and the heavy use of Latin that I simply don't know at all. Reading all four poems was a really worth-while exercise not solely because each has its merits but because taking them together informs each one individually. This was especially true of Gawain and I strongly recommend reading it last, rather than skipping the others or reading them after. This also has the incidental benefit of the reader having developed some familiarity with the obscure and difficult dialect and spelling that make Chaucer look like a book for kindergardeners. Pearl is the dullest, though most personal and heart-felt, of all the poems and lacks the story-telling verve and exciting and varied imagery of the others, so maybe don't start there, either. The re-tellings of Bible stories are the highlights of the other two poems and some of the scenes and images in those will stay with me just as long as any of the crazy events in Gawain.So - hard work but amply repaid and a long standing ambition achieved!

  • Ryan Pomerenke
    2019-04-25 01:59

    “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” is a story that mainly focused on Gawain’s chivalry being tested in many ways by the Green Knight. Everything began when a knight wearing nothing but green showed up to King Arthur’s home in Camelot. The knight asked Arthur to participate in his beheading game. To everyone’s surprise, Sir Gawain, another Knight of the Round Table, suggested that he play in his King’s place. Gawain is told that he can have one swing at the Green Knight’s head, but if the knight survived, Gawain had to let him have a swing himself. Sir Gawain beheaded the Green Knight immediately, but the knight picked up his head and rode off on his horse. Because of this, Gawain had to seek out the Green Knight a year and a day later to hold up his end of the deal. On his journey to find the Green Knight, Gawain’s chivalry was tested a few more times. In this story, Sir Gawain was the main character. Also, the Green Knight played a major role. Unlike anybody else in the story, the Green Knight had supernatural powers. Apart from surviving his beheading, the Green Knight shape shifted. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” took place during the 11th century. The first part of the beheading game took place at King Arthur’s home in Camelot. When Gawain went looking for the Green Knight, he wandered through the woods of North Wales until he stumbled upon a random castle. While at the castle, Sir Gawain learned the whereabouts of the Green Chapel. The end of this story takes place at the Green Chapel. There were a couple of prevalent themes in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. I concluded that honor was the most important theme. By seeking out the Green Knight to finish the beheading game, Gawain honored the Green Knight’s terms. I also thought loyalty was a significant theme. By offering to play in his King’s place, Gawain showed loyalty. I enjoyed reading “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. Basically, the moral of the story was to always do the right thing. Because a lot could be taken from this story, I would recommend it to anyone above at or above a high school reading level.

  • Dan Prillwitz
    2019-04-18 20:15

    “Sir Gawain” is a narrative poem that tells us a story about chivalry. Sir Gawain is the knight who is tested. On New Year’s Eve a Green Knight comes to Camelot looking to play a game. He asked who the leader of the castle was, because he figured he would be the one to play the game. King Arthur tells the Green Knight he is the leader and the Green Knight tells the King all the rules of the game. The Knights at the Roundtable know they should not let their King play the game so Sir Gawain is the brave one who steps up to play the game. Sir Gawain gets his one chance to chop the Green Knight’s head off and he fails, so he has to wait a year and one day to think about what is going to happen to him. Then he ventures off to the Green Knight’s castle to receive what is going to happen to him. Sir Gawain is one of the most important characters in the story because if it weren't for him, Camelot would have been without a King. The Green Knight is another main character because if he was not there the story would not have been written. There are a few other minor characters such as King Arthur, Green Knight’s wife, and the Knight’s of the Roundtable.The story is taken place in Camelot and also North Wales at the Green Knight’s castle. It is written in medieval times. You can tell because there are knights, castles, and the chivalrous acts are different than what we would consider today. The main theme in this story is chivalry. The Knight’s of the Roundtable are all tested but only one of them steps up and is courageous enough to play the game and that is Sir Gawain.I think this book was very interesting. It always kept me thinking what was going to happen next, and had these little hints that if you picked them up you could kind of tell what would happen next. I would recommend this book to high school students.

  • Brea Mapes
    2019-04-25 03:08

    I read the Medieval Romance “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” translated by Marie Borroff. This poem was a test of chivalry for Sir Gawain. The Green Knight proposes for someone to play his game. The rules were that one person is to try and cut the head off of the Green knight, and if they succeed they get to keep the ax. Although if they fail, in 12 months and a day the Green Knight will be able to cut the head off of his opponent. The game took place and someone lost, but in the end there was no loser. Sir Gawain is the nephew of King Arthur and is a knight of the round table. Sir Gawain chooses to be an opponent in the Green Knights game, which he lost. Sir Gawain is a knight filled with chivalry throughout this poem, but also was deceitful. In the end, nobody was hurt and lessons were learned.“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” took place in the 11th century. The setting took place in Camelot in the beginning. In the end the setting was was at the Green Chapel in North Wales. The author’s message in this poem is to always do the right thing. Chivalry is the main theme of this Medieval Romance, and in the end Sir Gawain passes the game. Without bravery, honest, valor, and courage, Sir Gawain would have never passed The Green Knights game.I would recommend this poem to English classes. I didn't really care for this story, but it does show you how chivalry works.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-26 00:15

    I just finished reading this book for my humanities class as part of our Poet unit, and I found it to be difficult to get into at first, although the last two Fitts really made up for it. After finishing the story, I realized that the story isn't simply for entertainment value, but rather as a means of realizing how Sir Gawain was determined to prove himself and thus become less "green". Unlike the other knights, Gawain feels that he needs to prove himself worthy of being a knight, especially since he is one of the younger knights and hasn't completed any adventures yet. I appreciated the fantasy aspect of the story, and the hidden meanings incorporated in it and the way the story progressed was very interesting to me.

  • Ygraine
    2019-03-26 23:00

    there is no time more beautifully, ominously dark than the week between christmas day and the coming of the new year; we eat and drink and make merry, with our windows tightly shut and our doors firmly barred against the wild winter but it's impossible not to feel the chill of the year breathing its last. it's this eerie sense of dread that i love about sir gawain and the green knight, the way the boundaries between the court and the wild, nature and the supernatural, reality and fantasy, history and myth are made thin, the familiar made unfamiliar, and all the while the beating heart of the poem is carrying us frantically closer to the moment of gawain's execution, and his blood against the snow.

  • Genevieve
    2019-04-11 02:04

    The rating is for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as I haven't (yet) read the others. Sir Gawain is classic, it is rich and strange, full of weird symmetries and magic and winter and chivalry and language that is at once intricately structured and fiercely vital. I somehow have managed to acquire four copies of it––the Tolkien and Borroff translations, this, and the text in my Medieval English Lit textbook.

  • Neil
    2019-03-28 23:00

    Originally given away in CD format with the fifth edition of the Gawain poems by Malcolm Andrew and Ronald Waldron, but now available in hardcover book format. Designed to be used by students as an aid to translating the original Middle English texts, the translators give a superb and accurate translation of all four poems contained in the Gawain manuscript.

  • Neil
    2019-04-17 23:00

    By far the best edition of these poems I've ever come across. Gives the complete Middle English texts of of all four poems with extensive notes, introduction and glossary. Does for the Gawain poet what Frederick Klaeber did for Beowulf.

  • Stephanie Kelley
    2019-04-22 23:09

    pearl was best

  • Rima Rashid
    2019-04-08 18:51

    Gawain's my bae.

  • Beth
    2019-04-10 22:10

    Those are more of an academic four stars, rather than four stars of enjoyment. I prefer Tolkein's rendering of Gawain and the Green Knight, which strikes me as both more atmospheric and epic while also being more grounded in the language of the original, but I am about the furthest thing from a medieval expert. Take with a grain of salt. Pearl, on the other hand, is a very, very difficult poem, which I found horribly obscure and nearly unreadable in every single iteration I tried. This, however, has a gloss on the other side of Pearl in modern English, which finally helped me to get some sort of grip on it, at least its most basic meanings. Cleanness and Patience frankly look like vacations after the long, long endurance test that is Pearl, and attempting to decipher its many multilayered meanings and non-meanings. This book was extremely useful to me when I was first trying to get some grasp on Middle English.

  • Carole-Ann
    2019-04-06 01:01

    I have a 1983 paperback edition published by J M Dent & Sons

  • Ryan Casey
    2019-03-28 20:50

    A big bold bowl of black beef bouillon

  • Kevin
    2019-04-02 02:07

    I actually read a version of the 2,500 lines of "Sir Gawayn and the Green Knight" in the Middle English original (quite a chore, but well worth it!). It's really a brilliantly-written, well-structured morality tale that exposes the hypocrisy in the community of knights of the Round Table, reknowned for its courage, faithfulness and courtesy. Gawain, of course, as one of the most famous of the lot, stands in as a living symbol of these Arthurian virtues, which are put on New Year's Day to the test in a contest of nerves with a strange figure, the Green Knight, who submits himself to a whacking at the neck with an axe and miraculously survives, head in hand, to challenge Arthur to submit himself to the same a year to the day from thence. Gawayn, going in Arthur's place the following year, finds his way to a castle out in the stix where a lively castellan and his fetching wife hold court. Through this lord's hospitality, Gawayn agrees to wait out the remaining days until New Year's Day. Meanwhile, the testing is on. The lord, actually the Green Knight in his true form, goads Gawayn to a contest: the lord will go out on hunt during the day, and at the end of each day, he will bring in to Gawayn his winnings for the day. Gawayn, likewise, is to hand over his winnings for the day too. The first day out, the testing begins when the lord's wife tries to seduce Gawayn (unsuccessfully). Over the course of the three days, you see a parallel progression of aggressive hunting (the lord hunts first deer, then fox, then a wild boar; the lady gets progressively more and more in Gawayn's face). While the lord always gets his prey, the first two days, Gawayn comes up empty, having resisted the lady's advances. On the third day, though, the lady scores points by foisting on Gawayn (exploiting his fear of his own impending death) a green sash that is said to ward off deadly blows from weapons, and she extracts a promise to keep the sash secret from her lord. On New Year's Day, when Gawayn goes to the Green Chapel to submit himself to the Green Knight's axe blow, he flinches from the blow at first, and then the second time stands bravely to take his medicine, at which point the Green Knight relents from finishing the contest, and reveals that he was goaded into this by Morgan LeFay, Arthur's age-old enemy in order to humiliate Arthur and his court. The interesting thing is that the anonymous "Gawayn" poet doesn't go over the top with portraying the foibles of Arthur and his knights (and Gawayn in particular). Gawayn is actually drawn as a truly good man with very human weaknesses, rather than the arrogant, bullying, heavily-armed lout he could be, considering his position. In other words, he's a believable, real character who is a lot like many of us. His comeuppance in the end, consequently, hits closer to home, and allows the reader to enter into Gawayn's predicament with greater ease. It makes you really question if you understand what fidelity and truthfulness are, and if you even have them. It reminds of the knight's oath we hear in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven": “Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Speak the truth, always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath." How well do we live up to this standard? Something to think about. One additional note about the text: reading it in Middle English, though difficult, was an enriching experience. Just seeing the rich vocabulary in what was once English really stretched and enriched my understanding of the English we speak today.

  • Raven Loweframe
    2019-04-12 01:09

    Of this collection, I only read Patience and Sir Gawain. 'Patience' was read years ago when I was still a BA student, while 'Sir Gawain' have marked my entire studies in terms of medieval literature. Not a semester without having to read it at least once. Not that I complain. This edition is a must have for any students - though I am certain your teachers know that already. For anyone else, the spelling may be off-putting, since the original has been kept. Be prepared. (Reading it aloud helps quite a lot.)The glossary does help as well, so do the very complete footnotes. (The CD-rom may or may not come in handy, I never used it.)About 'Sir Gawain', I would admit that the poem is victim of its own success. Among all the other works I read, it was the only one that had be translated, edited and discussed the most. Truth is, we can find what we want in it. What distinguishes this poem from others is that Arthur is portrayed as a rash 'king', acting childishly and sending Gawain to his death just because of his pride (the exact words come from a courtier). And after reading it, I was unable to see Arthur in a favourable light. I still can't. It makes the events in the Alliterative Morte Arthure rather far from heroic - and don't get me started on the rest. So, Gawain is here the archetype of the courteous knight - and victim of his reputation in French romances of being quite the ladies man. Here, he is not. And rebukes Lady Bertilak who is the fairest lady he ever saw (yup, more than Guinevere, which is normally forbidden because she's the queen and so on). Morgana is still his aunt, still evil and capable of very very wayward schemes. All to have Guinevere dead. The Green Knight is still green and still has this epic axe of his. There are various retelling of it, as in the 'Carl of Carlisle'. But this poem... it blows me away every time. And after a while, you start seeing things. One odd thing is that the Green Knight is given quite a lot of attention from the poet. And from the description you can picture a giant of a man, and a very handsome one at that. I still think the poet was besotted. Even though any subtext could be discarded as the need to describe an otherworldly being. I won't mention the game between Bertilak and Gawain - it's still drawing attention from scholars who want to see covert homosexual bonds - and while I am inclined to think so, I still have a hard time to believe it was the poet's intention. Again, you never know. And Bertialk himself tells Gawain that he asked his own wife to go to Gawain. (Gawain does not comment on that... which is bizarre.) And I got carried away again. This poem is brilliant - the descriptions, the Wirral, the gruesome details of the hunt, the verbal sparring between Lady Bertilak and Gawain, and the ultimate plot twist.

  • Phillip
    2019-04-17 19:08

    I teach British Literature, so I am very familiar with epic poetry and those involving heroes and chivalry, and tales of King Arthur's court. What I enjoy most about these tales is that whoever composed this poem, and others like it, knew the value of instilling the values of the ideal man to the people who listened to these poems performed in person. The common person could hear these tales and walk away thinking about his/her life, and what he or she needed to do to become the shining example of that ideal person. This is the first time I've closely studied Sir Gawain, and I am most impressed. I don't want to give too much away here, but the story focuses on one particular knight of King Arthur's roundtable. The "Green Knight" enters the court and poses a challenge to Arthur and/or one of his knights. One of them can take a swing at the knight's head, but regardless the outcome, one year hence, the Green Knight will have that same opportunity to return the swing to the same person who took his head. Sir Gawain volunteers, after a tense moment when King Arthur himself comes close to volunteering. He takes his sword and off comes the Green Knight's head. He proceeds to pick it up off of the ground and speak to the court, making clear that Sir Gawain must come to his Green Castle one year hence to offer up his neck in return. The remainder of the poem focuses on Gawain's journey to the kingdom of a Lord, his wife, her maid, and his followers. Gawain stays with this Lord for nearly one year, and in that time, the Lord of the castle makes an interesting bargain with Gawain. The resulting games are interesting and intriguing. Gawain finds himself tempted repeatedly by the Lord's wife to sleep with her, but as a noble knight, Gawain knows he must refuse. Finally, a year passes, he meets the Green Knight, and the ending is revealed. I loved this tale. It isn't difficult to read or understand. The author was clearly an educated monk who knew how to write poetry and did so quite effectively. What the story teaches us is that heroes are not perfect. In the end, we could argue that Gawain fails in his journey...that he doesn't exude all the characteristics of a noble knight of the round table, but a close reader will realize that the message here is far more profound. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and it's in our failures that we often learn the most about others, and about ourselves. I enjoyed reading this, and I'm going to enjoy teaching it. Morgan Le Fay also makes an appearance, which is interesting to say the least. This is a must read for any fan of the tales of King Arthur.

  • Dan de Sa
    2019-04-20 18:49

    This edition of the Pearl Poet's oeuvre is simply excellent because the poetry is preserved in the original language. Foremost, my favorite of the collection is probably that of most: SGGK. I believe there are a number of reasons which account for this. The first is my 20th/21st century preference for narrative over lyric. This doesn't mean I don't like lyric verse, it is just to say that my mind simply looks for narrative structure when I start reading a piece, and I think this results in my (as well as others') preference for SGGK over, say, The Waste Land. The second reason is the poetic skill at work in this poem. This is the first alliterative poem I've read, and I was just struck by the combinatino of the alliterative mode with the bob-and-wheel stanzaic structure. I think that this is one thing that attests to the poem's status as a gem of the alliterative revival. Pearl, of course, could be said to be great because of the same reasons I've listed. Both have great narratives and both are written with considerable skill. The reason I value SGGK over Pearl, however, is based on generic preference: SGGK is a Romance, while Pearl is a spiritual Allegory. While both genres were popular during the medieval period, I think that Romance is more appealing to modern tastes if only for the fact that it comes down to us through the genre of high fantasy. I like both, and I like what both poems have to say, but if I were given the choice of only one I'd have to go with SGGK. Of the two remaining poems, I've only read Patience, and it was a long time ago so my memory of it is vague. Basically, Patience and Cleanness (or Purity) are both sermons in alliterative verse. The former argues for the value that the virtue of patience has for us through a retelling of the story of Jonah and the whale. To be honest, it was a bit boring; but I do recommend reading all of the works of the Pearl poet, including these two (and St. Erkenwald, if you can find it, as it MAY have been written by the same author), so to get a full understanding of this poet's writing and thought.

  • N.J. Ramsden
    2019-04-23 21:50

    THIS REVIEW REFERS TO ANDREW & WALDRON (2007).There's no doubting the value of the source material – the Pearl MS is a fascinating document, and its poems a wonderful set of Middle English texts, the language throbbing from the page – but this edition, standard as it may be considered, is in sorry need of updating.Firstly, the typesetting is about as unfriendly to close reading as it could be, with the slight differences between bold, regular, and italic text of a rather fudgy appearance made even less legible by its being crammed together in awkwardly arranged pages. Then there're the footnotes – a nice idea, but often unhelpful and unfocussed. The glossary is so appalling to behold, with its terribly unclear multi-column layout and occasional missing content, that use becomes a chore and a frustration rather than a welcome aid.The introduction is basic but acceptable, the extra material (Latin Vulgate extracts) perhaps less relevant and useful than one would really want, and though the inclusion of a modern English translation is welcome, the fact it comes as a PDF on a CD-ROM in the back of the book renders it pretty useless these days, when so many computers no longer even include an optical drive. Seriously, as of the time of review (2015), when was the last time you installed anything from a disk?Re-set the text in a clearer, better-spaced typeface; clarify and correct the glossary; improve the utility and relevance of the footnote material; either devote some of the page to a translation or, to save paper and cost, just link to a download, and, while we're at it, annotate that translation usefully – then, perhaps, this will be an indispensable volume. As it is, however, it is rendered merely acceptable by the lack of alternatives.TL;DR: beautiful content having a really, really bad ugly-day.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-23 21:06

    My review of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is here!"Pacience is a poynt, þa3 hit displese ofte. When heuy herttes ben hurt with heþyng oþerelles,Suffraunce may aswag[en] hem & þe swleme leþe,For ho quelles vche a qued & quenches malyce;For quoso suffer cowþe syt, sele wolde fol3e,& quo for þro may no3t þole, þe þikker he sufferes."-"Pacience"Having already read the most famous work by the Pearl Poet, I decided to give his other works a shot. While I have to say that "Perle" outshines all other poems by him besides "Gawain" in my opinion, the one thing I have to say is this: I love that there is a strict, complex pattern that this guy sticks to. His impressive use of alliterative verse is something that is hard to accomplish even in Modern English (by the way, you should totally read this stuff in Middle English. You don't have to, but you'll be missing out!) While I find this poetry to be less polished than that of Chaucer, I enjoy the Pearl Poet because he is not so fancy. Being from a different region than Chaucer, he gives a different taste to medieval poetry that reveals the complexities of the English language as well as beliefs of the time. I find myself quickly warming up to the medieval folks, honestly. I'd have to say that I enjoy Chaucer and the works of the Pearl Poet equally well; the Pearl Poet handles religious topics very well and very poignantly, which is great.

  • Adam Krause
    2019-03-31 01:09

    “Sir Gawain” is an interesting narrative poem. The poem tells a story of a knight and and his commitment to chivalry. Sir Gawain is this knight and he is put through challenges without knowing he is being tested. A mysterious green knight is in command of these challenges. Sir Gawain will soon find out by the end of his test if he really is an honorable knight of the round table.Sir Gawain is the main character of the story. He is a knight of the round table and stands up for what is right. King Arthur was going to have his head cut off, but Gawain steps up to protect his king.The story was written in the fourteenth century depicting a place around seventh century Europe at King Arthur’s Castle, Camelot, and it also takes place in North Wales at the Green Chapel. The thematic connection is chivalry. Chivalry,starting in the sixth/seventh century, is a way of life and a code. It can define you as a person, and show you the way how a good and decent person should live.I recommend this poem for High School students because it requires you to think outside the box and test your imagination. The language is another reason why because the poem requires a knowledge of older vocabulary.

  • awgusteen
    2019-04-19 01:08

    I originally had to pick this up for class, but recently read the rest of the poems on my own. It's a fascinating look into the Medieval mind, and the essays and footnotes by Marie Borroff are insightful and engaging. These poems are often strange, but I cannot help but be captivated by them. The Gawain Poet (whoever he was) was a genius....it shows in his allusions and in his words. The poems themselves run from the complex and heavily theological Pearl, to the simpler but no less moving Saint Erkenwald. The Gawain legend is well-known, and rendered with humor, warmth, and wisdom. Patience and Cleaness are more remote and perhaps less emotionally available to the modern reader. They tackle Old Testament stories (Jonah, the Noahic Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Writing on the Wall), tied together with a homiletic message. Even with these, the passion, pathos, and great intelligence of the Poet shine through the obscurity of the verse.We will never know who he was, but at least we can know his art.

  • Brianne Durrant
    2019-04-08 20:16

    Although "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" was a little difficult to understand, it was a good book to read. I loved the message. This book is about testing for Chivalry. One day on New Year’s Eve, King Arthur and his knights were having a feast when The Green Knight interrupted and asked King Arthur to play the beheading game. The beheading game is where if he can chop off the Green Knight's head, he wins. However, if he does not, the Green Knight gets to do the same thing one year later. Sir Gawain stepped in for King Arthur and The Green Knight was thrilled. Once King Arthur agreed, Sir Gawain chopped off the Green Knight's head. Instead of him dying, the head rolled around and eventually talked. It said that since he was unable to kill him, he had to come back to the Green Castle in Green Whales a year later so he could do the same to him. There was also an agreement; Sir Gawain had to give The Green Knight any gifts he got between those three days. What he does not know is that this was a test of chivalry.

  • Nayarit
    2019-04-13 03:08

    Pearl is my favorite poem, hands down. I don't know what it is about the poem that I love so much. It could be the almost musical quality to the words or the alliterations, the beautiful imagery, or the sweet, touching story. I just love the poem.I'm not a big poem fan, and I think the resaon I love this so much is because it's a story really. Even though you know you're reading a poem because the voice alone but it wove sadness and hope and had a plot and it just captivates. I know the "Pearl Poet" or the "Gawain Poet" as he is more commonly referred to is known for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but I bought this for Pearl. And I loved the translations and think it was very well done. SO if it's for a school reference, then it won't disappoint.If reading it for the fun of it, I also think Pearl doesn't disappoint.

  • N.J. Ramsden
    2019-04-21 21:14

    This facsimile edition from the Early English Text society comes unbound in a ribbon-fastened box, with an introduction and notes from the 1923 publication. Any concerns about the effects the passage of time since upon the scope of literary criticism must be balanced fairly against the primary reason for this edition still being in print – that there isn't a more recent facsimile. The British Library is currently in the process of digitising texts of this kind, for open online access, but although it would be lovely to see a really good new facsimile taking advantage of modern technology to provide a superb print edition, no doubt the costs are seen as prohibitive and sales would be very few. Understandably, then, we have a 90-year old set of plates. It's still lovely, but makes one wistful and sad for the shift of potency of objects in the digital future. *sigh*

  • Fishface
    2019-04-01 01:09

    A very interesting, if slightly exhausting, read -- the parallel-text format kept tempting me over to the left-hand pages where I got dose after dose of the impenetrable original text of the mystery poet's works. I have to say that even with my limited knowledge of Middle English, some of the translations seemed very free indeed and I wonder how much of the meaning was lost or altered. Nevertheless this is an intriguing look into a deeply religious medieval mind -- and I do mean medieval, because the text content seemed so many decades older than anything I would have expected out of a poet writing in Middle English. I really wonder if these works were handed down from someone much earlier and if that accounts for the puzzling dialect...

  • Des Small
    2019-03-31 19:57

    If you only read one chivalric Arthurian romance in alliterative middle-English verse, it should probably be this one. Middle-English alliterative verse itself noted for (a) randoume spellynge (it is a curiosity that if you spell inconsistently by ear these days you'll get denounced as semiliterate but these medieval monks get a pass for that) and (b) a gazillion synonyms for "bloke" so that you can aliterate on any letter while still talking about a bloke or geezer or chap or fellow or knight or gyntijlman or whatever. There is also some handy information on how to field-dress ("butcher") deer, so there's something for everyone really.

  • Bobby
    2019-04-23 23:56

    If you are a Chaucer fan you will be delighted with this little gem. Written anonymously in the 13th or 14th Century, its a tale told many, many times over the years. Sir Gawain is to be tested by a green knight and the entire truth and gallantry of Arthur's knights are tested through him. The giant makes a deal with Sir Gawain and the ensuing wager is one of chivalry on both sides. To tell any more would create spoilers. This translation is easy to understand but also has the Olde English version on the facing pages.

  • Loren Harway
    2019-04-18 02:52

    It was okay, I don't think it's quite as good as any chaucer I've read but at least it was a challenge to translate. The twist was interesting if overly concise. Seven lines? Really? Can't spare any more than that in a 2500 line poem?Obviously the Gawain Poet was some sort of crazy man who lived in a hole somewhere. And that's where we found the manuscript.I wanted Morgan the Faye to have a backstory and to see Guinivere's reaction in general. The lack of either of these was a little odd. The folly of middle english, perhaps.The others I do not deem worthy of my reviewing.

  • Kandace
    2019-04-13 03:04

    I had to read this book for my Medieval English class at university. I really loved the class, but I have to admit that I struggled reading this particular book. I am quite good at reading Middle English, but for some reason was so caught up in the language of the book, that I was unable to focus on the content. I'd like to attempt it again, though, now that I have a few more Medieval classes under my belt.