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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Meltintalle
(@mel)
Member Moderator

Welcome to the discussion of this Arthurian Christmas tale! Some questions to get us started:

 

How were you first introduced to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

Which translation are you reading? (Have you read multiple translations? Do you have a preference and why?)

What theme(s) struck you as you read?

Do you have any thoughts about how The Green Knight fits into the larger Arthurian and historical literary tradition?

(Is it a Christmas tale, or does it just begin and end at Christmas?)

 

We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago! -- G. K. Chesterton

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Topic starter Posted : December 29, 2021 5:36 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

Is it OK if I write about how I dislike Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? Giggle  

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!

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Posted : December 30, 2021 5:52 am
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Nut

I remember reading the poem in college and liking it. There was always something intriguing about medieval England and the stories of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. I read the translation by J. R. R. Tolkien years later, but it was years ago so I don’t remember much of it. I thought it was enjoyable since I like old fashioned tales of chivalry. 🙂

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Posted : December 30, 2021 6:26 am
Meltintalle
(@mel)
Member Moderator

@col-klink I'd be interested in hearing why you're not a fan. It sounds like you had a strong reaction to the story.

We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago! -- G. K. Chesterton

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Topic starter Posted : December 30, 2021 8:38 am
icarus
(@icarus)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I can't say I've ever read the original text, but I absolutely loved David Lowery's film adaptation this year. Definitely worthy of consideration in the End of Year awards discussion.

It's such an intriguing film with a very unconventional narrative structure. It did take me a bit of additional research to fully unlock all of its thematic subtleties, but I think that's partly why it was such a rewarding watch.

I understand that they have expanded and altered much of the original story, but as it was explained to me, the changes made seemed to make for a more interesting interpretation. In essence, the thematic key to the movie is the 5 Virtues of Chivalry, with the film is broken down into several short individually titled sections whereby Gaiwin is confronted with a moral test of his virtue. 

Spoiler
Movie Spoiler
In the movie, Gaiwin actually fails all of these tests of character, but he is given the chance to redeem himself though his final meeting with the Green Knight, though the final shot is left ambiguous. This then ties it all together with Gaiwin's desire to prove himself worthy and to become a knight.

It's definitely not a very "accessible" movie, and it's easy to see why mainstream audiences would have struggled to decipher it's many layers of coded themes, but I enjoyed it a lot, and really admire it's bravery in choosing to be so unconventional.

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Posted : December 30, 2021 8:58 am
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Nut

I have read Sir Gawain in my high school senior year as part of our English class. (For those of you may not know, I was actually home schooled, though I had a class that was video taped, so it was like I was part of a class). I went through English Literature in my senior year, and Sir Gawain was one of things we've read.

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Posted : December 30, 2021 9:15 am
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

@mel  Well, full disclosure, I only read it in high school at the end of a stretch of studying medieval poetry, which I'd never liked and by then, disliked. So maybe I was just in a highly unreceptive state.

The basic story isn't terrible or anything. But it's pretty simple and didn't need to be nearly as long as it was. The characters didn't strike me as interesting at all and neither did the description that served as padding. (Maybe I just had a bad translation.) 

Spoiler
Ending Spoilers
I also thought the ending, where the main character goes on and on about how women are always corrupting men and takes no responsibility for his own actions, to be eyeroll-inducingly misogynistic. And I love lots of literature, like The Chronicles of Narnia, that's described as misogynistic, so I'm not paranoid about that sort of thing!

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!

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Posted : December 30, 2021 10:04 am
Pattertwigs Pal
(@twigs)
Member Moderator

How were you first introduced to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? 

I probably saw it in a list of Tolkien's works. I saw the movie trailer but lost interest in it when I saw that it was rated R. My friends suggested that we should read it. Unless it is part of Le Morte D'Arthur in which case that is where I was introduced to it. I didn't see it when I glanced through.

Which translation are you reading? (Have you read multiple translations? Do you have a preference and why?)

I will be listening to Tolkien's translation. I hope to locate a hardcopy of it but haven't had a chance to look. I would love comparing different translations but since I haven't read any translations yet, I think I will stick to one.

Pandemics
NW sister to Movie Aristotle & daughter of the King

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Posted : December 30, 2021 9:37 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Nut

My guess is that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight would have been one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite poems. It is something like Spenser’s Fairie Queene in that it is about King Arthur’s knights. Lewis loved those kind of stories, and unlike Eustace, he read the right books.  He probably taught the students how to read the poem in his classes when he was a professor. Sir Gawain is one of the first works that students read in an English Literature class in college.

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Posted : December 31, 2021 8:33 pm
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