Academic journal article Arthuriana

The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane

Academic journal article Arthuriana

The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane

Article excerpt

ralph hanna, ed., The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane. Scottish Text Society 5th ser. vol. 7. Woodbridge, Suffolk: D.S. Brewer, 2008. isbn: 978-1-89797-629-6. $70.

The publication of this STS edition of Golagros and Gawane five hundred years after Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar first printed the alliterative romance (on 8 April, according to the colophon), indeed the five hundredth anniversary of Scotland's first printed texts, is apposite indeed. The poem was intended by its original editor, Professor W. R. J. Barron, for publication by the Early English Text Society, but at the suggestion of Professor Hanna (who, upon Barron's untimely death, took on the editorial role), was transferred to the Scottish Text Society, perhaps a more natural home for such an edition.

The introduction establishes the broad-ranging discussion that is reflected in the commentary. It covers such diverse-but relevant-topics as the contractual elements of Chepman and Myllar's royal patent, the extent to which the process has a 'specific nationalistic formulation' (xiv), the commercial aspects of the printers' endeavor (and a fascinating discussion on the likely nationality of their workers, with corresponding focus upon the potential problems they faced in deciphering unfamiliar Scots scripts and texts [xxiii-xxiv]), the makeup of Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.1.16 which contains Golagros (xi-xii; xx-xxii), and a discussion on language and sources which emphasizes the importance of the Scots context. Hanna provides a close examination of the poem's language. He includes a useful list of features presented by the poem's rhymes, which move from those of general Northern English and Scots provenance to, eventually, features that are more specifically representative of late Middle Scots, supporting his dating of the poem as c. 1475-1500. The examination of the poem's sources, namely the 'First Continuation' to Chrétien's Perceval, and The Awntyrs off Arthure, is likewise detailed, with the analysis of particularly the Awntyrs throwing up some intriguing possibilities: Hanna suggests a Scots provenance for, or at the least Scots knowledge of, that poem, based in part on the Awntyrs' familiarity with the 'geography and political divisions of southwestern Scotland' (xxxv). …

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