Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Pearl; [and] Sir Orfeo
SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT, PEARL, and SIR ORFEO are masterpieces of a remote and exotic age--the age of chivalry and wizards, knights and holy quests. Yet it is only in the unique artistry and imagination of J.R.R. Tolken that the language, romance, and power of these great stories comes to life for modern readers, in this masterful and compelling new translation.
One of the best
By E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" - June 7, 2003
J.R.R. Tolkien is best known as a fantasy writer. But his lesser-known profession was that of an professor and linguist, working at Oxford for over three decade. These three translated poems are excellent examples of his non-Middle-Earth work."Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" is a relatively little-known Arthurian legend, in which the knight Sir Gawain must forfeit his life to a knight who allowed Gawain to behead him -- then picked up his head and rode out. "Pearl" is a beautifully written, though somewhat more difficult to read, poem that chronicles the death of a child (possibly allegorical). "Sir Orfeo" is a version of the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.Tolkien's method for these works is unusually readable -- most translators sacrifice either readability or meaning; as far as I can tell, Tolkien sacrificed neither. "Sir Gawain" is probably the easiest translation I have come across; "Pearl" is haunting, laced with religious references, and very beautifully written;... read more
The Most Metrical Translations in English
By Kent Wittrup - April 17, 2002
Between Tolkien's legendarium and scholarship fall his translations, which are by far the most regularly metrical translations in English. "Sir Gawain" includes 101 laisses or verse paragraphs of varying length, head-rhymed on the head-stave, each with an end-rhymed bob-and-wheel refrain; "Pearl" includes 101 12-line stanzas with regular (alternating) end-rhymes in addition to the head-rhymes, plus stanza-linking rhymes. Not even Professor Lehmann's Beowulf includes 101 bob-&-wheel refrains.Tolkien's international reputation as a scholar began with his revival of "Sir Gawain" in the early `20s, and he developed these translations over the course of some 50 years. Scholarly consensus has held that "Sir Gawain" and "Pearl," the masterworks of the 14th-century Middle English alliterative-stave revival (standing in relation to Chaucer as Marlowe to Shakespeare), were composed by a West Midlands author whose name has not survived, the authentically bereaved father of the "Pearl"... read more
The Great Magic
By Avant-Captain_Nemo - October 22, 2005
"Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight" is a great and holy work of literature and I return to it on an annual basis to breathe the air of its strong magic and to observe with awe its rutheless moral rigor. What a profound joy it is to foresake the barren land of contemporary hack literature and enter once more into a world where the colors are brighter, the language is grander, and the characters stride across the mysterious landscape like gods or faery-figures lit from within by a mystic sun. The great J.R.R. Tolkien did us all a supreme kindness when he advocated for the deep spiritual and aesthetic significance of "Beowulf" (for whom his own writings bear covert relations) and he doubled it when he translated this masterpiece of the enchanted but decidedly anonymous soul who wrote it.
Five stars are a poor return for such pleasure and wisdom offered.