Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Book 15 of 52 in 52

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by J. R. R. Tolkien does a masterful job of keeping the original story true to the alliterative style of the original poem while making the story accessible to modern readers.  Journey back to the Middle Ages to the time of knights and chivalry, magic and wizards, quests and courage where the tale begins in the court of the legendary King Arthur where a lavish celebration of Christmas-tide is underway.  In the midst of the festivities, the Green Knight appears challenging the renowned knights of Arthur's court to a test.  The knight may take the axe of the Green Knight and strike him with one blow, but he must promise to seek out the home of the Green Knight one year hence to receive back the blow he gives.  To prevent Arthur from accepting the challenge, Sir Gawain steps forward, makes his pledge, and severs the Green Knight's head from his body only to watch in amazement as the knight picks up the head and rides off.  A year later Sir Gawain must begin his quest alone to find the Green Knight and keep his word.  After resting at Christmas-tide at the Bertilak castle where he fends off the advances of Lady Bertilak, he arrives at his destination to discover that the entire quest has been a test devised using the magic of Morgan la Fay.  How well has he done?  Did he pass the test and show himself to be a true knight?

One of the classics of literature, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, rightly deserves in place among the great books.  I would recommend the Tolkien translation for ages 13 and up.

1 comment:

Faith said...

I love this one!