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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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A splendid new translation of the classic Arthurian tale of enchantment, adventure, and romance, presented alongside the original Middle English text. It is the height of Christmas and New Year's revelry when an enormous knight with brilliant green clothes and skin descends upon King Arthur's court. He presents a sinister challenge: he will endure a blow of the axe to his neck without offering any resistance, but whoever gives the blow must promise to take the same in exactly a year and a day's time. The young Sir Gawain quickly rises to the challenge, and the poem tells of the adventures he finds--an almost irresistible seduction, shockingly brutal hunts, and terrifyingly powerful villains--as he endeavors to fulfill his promise. Capturing the pace, impact, and richly alliterative language of the original text, W. S. Merwin has imparted a new immediacy to a spellbinding narrative, written centuries ago by a poet whose name is now unknown, lost to time. Of the Green Knight, Merwin notes in his foreword: "We seem to recognize him--his splendor, the awe that surrounds him, his menace and his grace--without being able to place him . . . We will never know who the Green Knight is except in our own response to him." "From the Hardcover edition." Hide synopsis

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Reviews of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Overall customer rating: 5.000
poetpaintographer

Medieval Page-turner

by poetpaintographer on Sep 9, 2010

One of Merwin's best translations (unlike his Purgatorio), the tale, while deeply symbolic, stands up as a story full of surprises and suspense, together with some wonderful descriptions of the moment that draw you right in there. I find contemporaries such as Chaucer or the earlier Beowulf hard going, but this was a happy read, which I shall enjoy reading again one day.

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