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Tony Grist

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Sir Gawain [Jun. 15th, 2011|10:13 am]
Tony Grist
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is all about aristocratic types being polite to one another. It's like Jane Austen with hauberks. The fighting- with bores (boars), bears and etains (giants)- is hurried past so we can get to the really interesting stuff- which is the paying of compliments. These guys eat a lot too. And when they want to reward themselves for some particularly fabulous act of courtesy they tuck into double portions.

I've been meaning to read this since the seventies (when I bought the copy I've been hauling from house to house.) I find I'm getting the hang of Middle English and that much of the obsolete vocabulary is guessable. They have ever so many different words for "man"-but I suppose we do too. I love the rattle of alliterative verse- and the brilliance of the scene-painting- at its best when the weather is worst.:
Near slain with the sleet, he slept in his irons
More nights than enough in naked rocks,
There as clattering from the crest the cold burn runs,
And hanged high over his head in hard icicles.*

[User Picture]From: setsuled
2011-06-15 09:30 am (UTC)
I remember associating it with Hitchcock's Vertigo when I read it--though I tend to associate a lot of things with Vertigo. From a 2008 entry in my blog;

Discussing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in class on Tuesday night, I couldn't help thinking about its similarities to Vertigo. Is that movie just too much on my brain? But think about it--Gawain's Scottie, the Green Knight and his wife are Judy, and Morgan le Fay is Gavin Elster. Morgan le Fay's barely in the story, yet it's her plot that sets everything in motion--just like Elster. Gawain's having an existential crisis, in that he finds his nature in conflict with his identity as a knight--similar to Scottie's sexual impulses being at odds with his identity as a hero. Judy's even associated with the colour green in Vertigo.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-06-15 12:53 pm (UTC)
I'm still only halfway through and haven't met Morgan yet. I'll be reading the rest in the light of your analysis.
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