Translated by William Vantuono
This comprehensive, critical edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the fruit of William Vantuono’s laborious, life-long research on the fourteenth century romance. By combining fantasy and realism, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight praises court life with an undercurrent of satire against a declining chivalric ideal. The poem calls up from the mythic past the shadows of archetypal figures, yet inspires modern psychoanalytic interpretations, and entertains while teaching a moral-religious lesson.
The heart of this edition is the Middle English text, with a Modern English Verse translation on facing pages and extensive notes at the bottom of the pages. A discussion of the manuscript, the anonymous poet and his other poems, the structure of the poem and its audience, themes, characterization and purpose serve as a valuable introduction to the classic.
With this translation, Vantuono aims to adhere as closely to the original as possible without sacrificing the poem’s essential meaning and mood. He succeeds in revealing the literal sense of the Middle English vocabulary through notes where necessary changes were made for poetic effect. The reader is therefore able to compare the Middle English original, the translation, and the notes to learn about the old language, the content of the poem, the poet’s artistry, and the process of translation.
This complete edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will satisfy scholars confronted with the tasks of studying and teaching medieval literature as well as any reader who finds enjoyment in the perusal of literary masterpieces.
“Vantuono’s methodology is highly successful, for the pulsating beat and the exuberant spirit of Gawain are recreated in his translation.” — Speculum