Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a masterpiece of medieval English literature and one of the finest Arthurian tales in any language. Though its ingenious plotting and verbal artistry continue to dazzle readers, it is written in a challenging regional dialect and uses many words that were already archaic when the poem was written in the late fourteenth century. This edition is designed to make the poem, in its original Middle English, accessible to students and general readers.
Following standards adopted for editing other Middle English poets, the edition lightly normalizes spellings to make words more recognizable for a modern audience. Extensive marginal glossing of difficult words, thorough on-page explanatory notes, and a comprehensive glossary offer further support for readers. The historical appendices include other examples of medieval romance from France and Britain.
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is arguably the greatest poem surviving in English from any period, and Paul Battles’ edition is the ideal introduction to it. The text has been reconsidered at every level, and the notes and glossary take in the latest scholarship, but the scholarship never threatens to overwhelm the beauty and power of the poem. The new appendices on sources and analogs are especially valuable.” — Tom Shippey, Professor Emeritus, Saint Louis University
“Among the increasing number of translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it is good to be able to welcome a new edition of the poem itself. The very richness of the poem’s verbal detail and the subtlety of its philosophical argument require a mastery of the original text, and in this edition the beginning student is fortunate to have not only a learned guide but also a sensible one who writes with engaging clarity and is tolerant of the diversity of critical opinion. The text itself is supplied not only with marginal glosses and succinct, informative notes but also a full glossary. The four well-chosen appendices are worthy of special mention, providing valuable source material that places the poem in its authentic context of Arthurian romance and aristocratic culture.” — Gerald Morgan, Trinity College Dublin