A companion to the Gawain-poet by Derek Brewer, Jonathan Gibson

By Derek Brewer, Jonathan Gibson

The essays accumulated the following at the Gawain-Poet supply stimulating introductions to Sir Gawain and the golf green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness and endurance, supplying either details and unique research. subject matters comprise theories of authorship; the historic and social history to the poems, with person sections on quite very important positive aspects inside them; gender roles within the poems; the manuscript itself; the metre, vocabulary and dialect of the poems; and their resources. a piece dedicated to Sir Gawain investigates the information of courtesy and chivalry chanced on inside of it, and explores a few of its later variations from the 15th to the 20th centuries. an entire bibliography completes the amount.

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Bertilak's own pleasure and the honour he says he feels in housing Gawain (10316) may perhaps be regarded with suspicion, but unless all his large household is in the secret of Bertilak's Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, which seems unlikely, we should probably take their pleasure and their own good conduct at face-value. This raises other interesting questions about the nature of the story in SGGK. No poet more enjoys, or better performs, the descriptions of feasts and courtly pastimes than the Gawain-poet, and no court in literature, one may venture to guess, is better conducted than Bertilak's.

At the beginning of Cleanness God is a king in his court. Heaven is God's court, God is a 'hende [courteous] lord' (1172), as he is in Patience (398), and to attain heaven is to be 'known in his court' (1053). The natural climax of such a vision, where splendour is unlimited, is Pearl. Heaven is a whole noble country of gleaming rocks, crystal cliffs, bright woods with silver leaves that trill like bells, gravel of precious pearls of orient, fresh fruits, birds of flaming colours and enchanting music.

Perhaps 'contradiction', especially 'self-contradiction', and paradox, are due to take the place of the New Criticism's 'irony' as the defining characteristic of poetry. At least they are in part well-suited to our poet, who is always conscious of tensions, of being pulled in two different directions. This is not to deny that our poet, like the Bible and most literature, is 'phallogocentric' how could he be anything else? That is to say that his cultural outlook, for good historical reasons apart from intrinsic merit, was heavily biased in favour of the male outlook and verbal expression, and of the desire for a central ordering and unity of experience.

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