Narrator Jasper Britton handles Benedict Flynn's new verse translation with ease, never allowing the rhymes to call attention to themselves. He draws clear portraits of King Arthur, Gawain, the mysterious Green Knight, and the many others who populate this literary classic, from Guinevere to Morgan le Fay. Britton's intensity and pacing make the magical saga live and breathe. From the charger's hooves to the clash of swords, it's all completely believable. Britton is sincere and convincing when Gawain encounters severe hardships and desperation in his quest to find the Green Knight. His performance is fully engaging as this medieval legend unfolds.
A mysterious knight all in green arrives at King Arthur's court and issues a bizarre challenge. Gawain answers the knight - but at what cost? This new translation keeps all the poetic power of the original's extraordinary alliteration. One of the greatest stories of English literature from any period, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a magical, medieval combination of the epic and the uncanny.
A new verse translation by Benedict Flynn.
(P)2008 Naxos Rights International
St. Louis, Missouri
Fear not, this version of Gawain is in modern verse. But it is a story both "stif" and "stronge", narrated by a voice talent who comprehends and conveys all the outlandish drama and subtle undertones of the tale.
The sheer number of modern versions of this poem, in prose and verse--from J. R. R. Tolkien, W. S. Merwin and Jesse Weston to, most recently, Simon Armitage--testify to its enduring power. It really is an imaginative tour de force and, among Medieval poems, something of a rarity: a story that deeply satisfies our modern need for brevity, a well-rounded plot and an unexpected denouemont. Startlingly cinematic in the way scenes shift and are contrasted with one another, Gawain reminds us that writers were aware of the technique long before Edison invented the movie camera. And beyond all that there's the lush, vivid, refined, barbaric, delicate and always-surprising language wielded so skillfully by our anonymous genius. That in itself is a joy to listen to.
I lack the background to be a perceptive critic of the present version of the poem, but at least to me it stands up very well indeed, driven along by an energetic performance. Use it as a way to get back into the poem if you know it already--or as a way to get others hooked.
I enjoyed this reading very much and I'm sure I will do so quite a few more times at least. It is a first-class old English poem, finely translated, and finely read. The poetry comes over fresh and strong, with the rhythm, alliteration, and occasional rhyme apparently well preserved by the translation. It is also a jolly good story.
"Sir Garwain & the Green Knight"
An entertaining little story.
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