Medieval Beginnings: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Irina Dumitrescu and Mary Wellesley

Irina and Mary jump to the 14th century for an introspective Arthurian romance about a knight trying to live up to his perfect reputation. The mysterious and intricate Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is perhaps best understood as a series of games within games, in which our hero, a recurring character throughout medieval literature, is never sure what adventure he’s playing. Writing at a time when the idea of the knight had become mainly an ideological construct, the unknown poet deploys a glittering array of poetic devices and rich symbolism to pose challenging questions about failure, obligation and how we judge ourselves.

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Further reading in the LRB:

Frank Kermode: Who has the gall?

Mary Wellesley: The Wyldrenesse of Wyrale

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