Monday, July 22, 2013

The Green One

As is is wont, Sir Gawain is eager to accept the Red Knight's challenge, and, as is her wont (in our
story at any rate) Lady Ragnell remind him that he has other fish to fry. The anonymous Middle English Romance "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is a comparatively late romance, dating from the late 14th century and written in a northern dialect of Middle English. In the poem, a gigantic green knight rides into Arthur's court and offers a challenge: Take his axe and lop off his head, but be prepared to receive a similar blow a year hence. Gawain accepts the challenge and must face the consequences - and more. Many translations are available, including one by J.R.R. Tolkien. Here's a link to a late 19th century prose translation by Jesse L. Weston, author of the Grail study From Ritual to Romance, which is amongst Cally's books back at Myrddyn's cottage. 

(I also heartily recommend the website, Internet Sacred Text Archive, which is a truly impressive digital library of scripture, folklore, mythology, and what-have-you.)

There are also at least two film adaptations of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," and I am sorry to report that both of them are wretched. Here, however, is a nifty BBC documentary about the romance, hosted by poet Simon Armitage:  

There will be a short quiz next class meeting.