Gawain & the Green Knight c. 1380
This portal was curated by:

ANONYMOUS

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance. The author is unknown; the title was given centuries later. It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of folk motifs, the beheading game and the exchange of winnings. Written in stanzas of alliterative verse, each of which ends in a rhyming bob and wheel,[1] it draws on Welsh, Irish and English stories, as well as the French chivalric tradition. It is an important example of a chivalric romance, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest which tests his prowess. It remains popular in modern English renderings from J. R. R. Tolkien, Simon Armitage and others, as well as through film and stage adaptations.
DATABASES
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English chivalric romance. The author is unknown; the title was given centuries later. It is one of the best known Arthurian stories, with its plot combining two types of folk motifs, the beheading game and the exchange of winnings. Written in stanzas of alliterative verse, each of which ends in a rhyming bob and wheel,[1] it draws on Welsh, Irish and English stories, as well as the French chivalric tradition. It is an important example of a chivalric romance, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest which tests his prowess. It remains popular in modern English renderings from J. R. R. Tolkien, Simon Armitage and others, as well as through film and stage adaptations.
The anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is considered one of the masterpieces of Middle English literature. It was composed in the West Midlands region of Britain at the end of the 14th century, but was copied out at the beginning of the 15th. The poem only survives in this single manuscript at the British Library – Cotton MS Nero A X.

Gawain is a story of knightly deeds, sexual enticement and wild landscapes. It tells the story of the young Gawain, who is a knight at the legendary court of King Arthur. The poem opens with a description of a Christmas feast at Camelot, the Arthurian court. During the feast a mysterious knight, with green hair and green skin, riding a green horse, arrives and challenges the assembled crowd to a bizarre game, which sets off a chain of events in which Gawain faces trials and temptations.
The poem of which the following pages offer a prose rendering is contained in a MS., believed to be unique, of the Cottonian Collection, Nero A.X., preserved in the British Museum. The MS. is of the end of the fourteenth century, but it is possible that the composition of the poem is somewhat earlier; the subject-matter is certainly of very old date. There has been a considerable divergence of opinion among scholars on the question of authorship, but the view now generally accepted is that it is the work of the same hand as Pearl, another poem of considerable merit contained in the same MS.
   Our poem, or, to speak more correctly, metrical romance, contains over 2500 lines, and is composed in staves of varying length, ending in five short rhyming lines, technically known as a bob and a wheel,–the lines forming the body of the stave being not rhyming, but alliterative. The dialect in which it is written has been decided to be West Midland, probably Lancashire, and is by no means easy to understand.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is about “a young man in King Arthur’s court who embarks on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery. He must ultimately fulfill his part of a daring bargain: to surrender his own head one year after beheading a shadowy knight in the mythical kingdom of Camelot.

…Written in verse packed with symbolism, allegory, and mystery, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a fascinating and layered work that can be viewed through a range of lenses and perspectives. Part of a cycle of stories centering on King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, the poem stands out in the Arthurian legends as a deeply ambiguous and morally rich coming-of-age tale, filled with enchanting and intricate detail.

(excerpts from The Green Knight press kit)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of four poems found in London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.X (late fourteenth century). These poems are believed to be written by the same poet, and none is provided with a title in the manuscript. Thus, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the name supplied by the editors and the one that has become generally agreed upon.
Visit our special guest curator
Related Portals:
 
Related Portals: