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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the poem of the knight who interrupts King Arthur's Christmas celebrations, challenging someone to chop off his head if he can do the same in return

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the jewels of medieval English poetry. It was written c1400 by an unknown poet and then was left hidden in private collections until the C19th when it emerged. It tells the story of a giant green knight who disrupts Christmas at Camelot, daring Gawain to cut off his head with an axe if he can do the same to Gawain the following year. Much to the surprise of Arthur's court, who were kicking the green head around, the decapitated body reaches for his head and rides off, leaving Gawain to face his promise and his apparently inevitable death the following Christmas.

The illustration above is ©British Library Board Cotton MS Nero A.x, article 3, ff.94v95

With

Laura Ashe
Professor of English Literature at Worcester College, University of Oxford

Ad Putter
Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Bristol

And

Simon Armitage
Poet and Professor of Poetry at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

52 minutes

Last on

Thu 13 Dec 2018 21:30

LINKS AND FURTHER READING

Laura Ashe at the University of Oxford

Ad Putter at the University of Bristol

Simon Armitage at the Universities of Leeds and Oxford

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – British Library

‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: an introduction’ by Simon Armitage – British Library

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Wikipedia

 

READING LIST:

Simon Armitage (trans.), Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber, 2007)

W. R. J. Barron (ed.), The Arthur of the English: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval English Life and Literature (first published 1999; University of Wales Press, 2011)

Derek Brewer and Jonathan Gibson (eds.), A Companion to the Gawain-Poet (first published 1998; D.S.Brewer, 2007)

Elisabeth Brewer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Sources and Analogues (D.S.Brewer, 1992)

J.A. Burrow, The Gawain-Poet (Northcote House Publishers Ltd, 2000)

Ad Putter, An Introduction to the Gawain Poet (Longman, 1996)

Ad Putter and Myra Stokes (eds.), The Works of the Gawain Poet: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness (Penguin, 2014)

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