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One of the greatest works of the Middle Ages, in a marvelous new verse translation Composed in the fourteenth century, Sir Gawain and the Green Knightis as beloved as it is venerable, combining the hallmarks of medieval romance—pageantry, chivalry, and courtly love—with the charm of fairy tales and heroic sagas. When a mysterious green knight rides on horseback into King Arthur’s court, interrupting a New Year’s feast, he issues a challenge: if any of King Arthur’s men can behead him and he survives, then a year later he is entitled to return the strike. Sir Gawain takes up the challenge and decapitates the green knight, only to see him pick up his severed head and ride away, leaving Gawain to seek him out to fulfill their pact. Blending Celtic myth and Christian faith, Sir Gawain and the Green Knightis a Middle English masterpiece of magic, chivalry, and seduction.
Bernard O-'Donoghue is a fellow in English at Wadham College and a noted Irish poet.