Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Pearl, The

The Pearl, one of four Middle English alliterative poems, all contained in a manuscript of c.1400, composed in the West Midland dialect, almost certainly by the same anonymous author, who flourished c.1370–1390. The Pearl is usually explained as an elegy for the poet's young daughter; in an allegorical vision of singular beauty he sees her as a maiden in paradise and becomes reconciled to her death. The second and third poems, Cleanness (or Purity) and Patience, are homiletic poems on those virtues. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the fourth poem, which relates a fabulous adventure of Gawain, is perhaps the most brilliantly conceived of all Arthurian romances. If single authorship is accepted, the artistry displayed in this poem and in The Pearl make the so-called Pearl-poet in some respects a rival to Chaucer. A fifth poem, St. Erkenwald, is attributed by some authorities to the same anonymous author.

For translations of the first, fourth, and fifth poems and for bibliography, see R. S. Loomis and R. Willard, ed., Medieval English Verse and Prose (1948); studies by I. Bishop (1968) and A. C. Spearing (1976).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
J. R. R. Tolkien; E. V. Gordon.
Clarendon Press, 1967 (2nd edition)
An Introduction to the Gawain-Poet
Ad W. Putter.
Longman, 1996
FREE! A Study of Gawain and the Green Knight
George Lyman Kittredge.
Harvard University Press, 1916
Seeing the Gawain-Poet: Description and the Act of Perception
Sarah Stanbury.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991
The Gawain-Poet: Studies in His Personality and Background
Henry Lyttleton Savage.
University of North Carolina Press, 1956
Gawain's Practice of Piety in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Hardman, Phillipa.
Medium Aevum, Vol. 68, No. 2, Fall 1999
The Play World and the Real World: Chivalry in 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.'
Weiss, Victoria L.
Philological Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 4, Fall 1993
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Political Allegory in Late Medieval England
Ann W. Astell.
Cornell University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Penitential Politics in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Richard II, Richard of Arundel, and Robert de Vere"
Discourse and Dominion in the Fourteenth Century: Oral Contexts of Writing in Philosophy, Politics, and Poetry
Jesse M. Gellrich.
Princeton University Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "The Spell of the Ax: Diglossia and History in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
The Company of Camelot: Arthurian Characters in Romance and Fantasy
Charlotte Spivack; Roberta Lynne Staples.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Gawain: Arthur's Hawk of May"
Gawain and the Godgames
Pugh, Tison.
Christianity and Literature, Vol. 51, No. 4, Summer 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
From Pearl to Gawain: Forme to Fynisment
Robert J. Blanch; Julian N. Wasserman.
University Press of Florida, 1995
The Fayre Formez of the Pearl Poet
Sandra Pierson Prior.
Michigan State University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "Signs of the Divine in Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and Chap. Four "The Fayre Formez of Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
Text and Matter: New Critical Perspectives of the Pearl-Poet
Robert J. Blanch; Miriam Youngerman Miller; Julian N. Wasserman.
Whitston, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "Signifying the Self: Language and Identity in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" begins on p. 195 and "Bonding and Signification in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" begins on p. 213
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