Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Synopsis

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (1892-1973) is best known as the author of The Hobbit and its sequel The Lord of the Rings. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon language at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and of English language and literature, also at Oxford, from 1945 to 1959.

Excerpt

The first edition of this book was published in 1925, and last substantially corrected in 1936. A number of things in it had naturally come to need revision. E. V. Gordon died in 1938; Mrs. Gordon has consented to my attempting the task. J. R. R. Tolkien, long ago my teacher and now my much honoured friend, has allowed me a free hand in revising his work and has generously given me the use of his later notes. Many of these I have incorporated, but other changes are my own and for the final blend I am alone responsible. I have tried above all to maintain the central concern of the first edition with the author's words. Fashions in the 'interpretation' of Gawain have changed often and violently in the past twenty years or so, and an edition is not the place to attempt another opinion. But I have expanded the introductory account of the known analogues, for these too are matters of fact.

The willingness of the Clarendon Press to reset the book has made possible some changes of policy in text and footnotes. The most important is the replacement of ȝ by z where that is the letter intended. In other features of spelling the practice of the first edition is unchanged. Though there is much to be said for normalizing spelling, in the way to which everyone is accustomed in editions of Chaucer, there is also a place for a text that will show something of the appearance of the unique manuscript and enable readers who are interested to judge the problems that its forms may present. The other most noticeable change is the distinction of type marking the lesser coloured initial capitals-- though Madden's division into four main parts is retained.

The major event in Gawain scholarship since this book was first published has been the appearance of Sir Israel Gollancz's edition of the poem for the Early English Text Society in 1940. I have naturally made full use of it, and have acknowledged what I have adopted from it. In addition to more recent discussions of particulars of the text, I have taken the opportunity to look again at earlier work, notably (though not only) by C. Brett, O. F. Emerson, J. R. Hulbert, T. A. Knott, F. P. Magoun, H. L. Savage, and Mrs. E. M. Wright; and I have collated the . . .

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