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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 94 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140424539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140424539
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

We know the "Gawain Poet" was a contemporary of Geofrey Chaucer's. He appears to have been the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Cleanness; "he" may also have composed Saint Erkenwald. Bernard O'Donoghue is a Fellow in English at Wadham College and a noted Irish poet

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Customer Reviews

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This story - or 'romance' if you like - was found in a little manuscript that was written in c.1380.
Jan Dierckx
If you are a student of English literature, or simply a lover of archaic English texts, the Penguin edition of SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT is a great choice.
Christopher Culver
There are also two bibliographies, one of texts mentioned in this book, and another for suggested readings for students.
FrKurt Messick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Joelline on May 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I know that the Marie Borroff translation is much praised, but this one is far better for the undergraduate classroom. While both translations share some characteristics (both are in poetry, both try to maintain the alliteration), you need only compare/contrast the "bob and wheel" (last 5 lines of each stanza) to see that Stone has managed to maintain "the sting in the tail" so typical of the original Middle English version--wherein a significant or surprising part of the stanza often appears in the bob and wheel--start with Fitt I, stanzas 4 and 7. Stone also maintains the "alliterative signaling" oral tradition: when possible he tries to alliterate only key words (Boroff seems happy when she can alliterate anything in the line, regardless of its significance to theme or motif!). As a medievalist, I am truly sorry to see so many of my colleagues jumping on the Borroff bandwagon when this superior, alternative translation is so readily available.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Williams on September 18, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The Kindle text is not verse, it is prose. It is not the Marie Borroff verse translation of 1967; rather it is a prose translation dated 1898, revised 1900!!!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Penguin Classics edition of SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, edited by J.A. Burrow, is fantastic for motivated readers who wish to approach the text as it really is, and delve deep into its symbolism and historical references. Burrow's edition is not a translation into modern English, but a presentation of the original Middle English with enough notes and and a glossary so copious that the reasonably well-educated reader will be able to tackle and even really enjoy this important work.
While it was written at the same time as Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES, which is difficult but of which the modern reader can usually get the gist, SIR GAWAIN is written in a dialect of rural England which seems more impenetrable nowadays. Under this archaic facade, however, lies a magical tale ostensibly of Arthurian myth, but which is really an adaptation of an older, indigenous legend. The framing of the tale attempts to claim a noble heritage for England from Troy like the Roman poet Vergil had done for Rome with his AENEID.
I was a bit disappointed by the lack of a decent introduction. Barrow provides only a brief explanation of how the text was typeset and minor alterations in spelling, but I would have preferred coverage of the history of the story, the role of Arthurian myth in the popular literature of the writer's region, and a brief mention of the other contents of the manuscript on which the work was found.
If you are a student of English literature, or simply a lover of archaic English texts, the Penguin edition of SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT is a great choice.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By PHL1111 VINE VOICE on March 3, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Kindle version of this book has hard breaks at the end of every line making it very difficult to read because the text splits in the middle of every other line rather than where it logically should.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Judith C. Kinney on October 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read at least four translations of Gawain, including Tolkein's, and the Brian Stone version is my favorite. It is written in understandable English. As another reviewer has pointed out, Stone's version is most like the medieval one in its structure, its use of alliteration, and the rhyme scheme of the bob and wheel. Tolkein, in an appendix to his version, gives a clear and enlightening explanation of the principles of this kind of poetry. Once you've read Tolkein's explanation, your appreciation of the poem will be greatly enhanced. Nowadays, many poets and others turn up their noses at alliteration, but I love it. So the language is one of the things that make the poem such a pleasure to read.
Another thing that makes Gawain a great read is that it is just a darn good story. When a green man riding a green horse and carrying his own green-haired head gallops into Arthur's dining hall, you know there's going to be some drama in this tale. And there is! There's some hunting and killing of animals for the sportsperson and the bloodthirsty. There's romantic temptation, and there's suspense.
One reviewer speculated on possible symbolism in the novel. The search for deeper meanings might interest some readers. For me to "get" a symbol, it has to jump out of the book and bite me on the nose.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Brian Stone has done a good job of translating this medieval story and has kept the alliterations (many of which are tongue twisters). Sir Gawain is challenged by a knight all in green who supposedly lives at the Green Chapel. The storyline has some twists to it and proves to be a satire on medieval romances. The Green Knight, the mysterious challenger to Sir Gawain, tries to test Sir Gawain in all possible ways; even throughout Gawain's journey to the Green Chapel. Surprising ending to the unaware reader. The end notes and essays are especially helpful in analyzing the story and understanding all the details of the poet. It's a good read if you're looking for a fun medieval story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jan Dierckx on June 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author of this little masterpiece is unknown. This story - or 'romance' if you like - was found in a little manuscript that was written in c.1380. There are three other stories in that manuscript presumably by the same author.

King Arthur, his wife Guinevere, and the Knights of The Round Table are celebrating Christmas and New Year at the famous castle 'Camelot'. One evening a huge knight on horseback bursts into the Hall during dinner, brandishing a large and fearsome battle-axe. Everything about him is green, not only his armor - as one might expect - but also his face, his hair, and even his horse. He has come in peace as he is advertising more than once. In short he says: who is bold enough to step forward and try to chop my head off with this battle-axe? But after one year and a day it will be my turn to deal a blow. Gawain, one of the Knights of The Round Table, steps forward, takes the axe and beheads the Green Knight. As if nothing happened the Green Knight picks up his head, takes it under his arm and the head says: a year and one day from now it will be my turn to give you a blow. You have to promise that you will come looking for me. You can find me at the Green Chapel ( It's almost a joke but who knows? Maybe this is all just a joke ). If you survive my blow I will give you a great reward. The Knight doesn't want to say where the Green Chapel can be found. It's far away from here but you will find people who can show you the way. And remember, you promised. And so the adventure begins for Gawain. He has to go without a companion. He stands on his own for that was a part of the deal.

This Fantasy element is the only one in the story. Everything else is realistic.
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