This was the required summer reading assignment for my sophomore year. No matter how unwilling I was to open this book, I had to. When I first started reading, I thought I bought the wrong book in the wrong language, because it turned out that the left side of this translation was the original Medieval English. However, as my eyes skimmed through the lines of words and rhymes, I had a quite different idea about this poem.
The story was written by an unknown author in the Middle Ages, and its only manuscript was found in the house of an early seventeenth-century Yorkshireman. As one of the most significant representation of Arthurian romance, this piece of work is beyond valuable.
Gawain was King Arthur’s niece, the perfect representation of chivalry and honor. As the most notable knight of the Round Table, Gawain’s fame was known throughout the entire country. Nevertheless, there were countless people who wanted to challenge such a fine knight, and the mysterious Green Knight was one of them. This adventurous tale of Sir Gawain was woven between love and trickery, courage and danger, as well as Christianity and paganism. It not only taught me a pragmatic lesson on morality as it did to Gawain, it also brought to me a whole new perspective on the alliterative verses of the Middle English literature.
So, my dear readers, the next time your English teachers assigned you a reading assignment, don’t be a hater like I was. We all read differently and think differently, and that is the beauty of literature. Try to appreciate the joy and excitement that it gives us!
Simon Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.