Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation in Modern English (英語) ペーパーバック – 2016/8/22
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Poetry. SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT by the anonymous Gawain-Poet (or Pearl-Poet) is, like Beowulf, one of the greatest classics of English literature. Hailed as the finest Arthurian romance, this technically brilliant tale of enchantment, faith, temptation, and chivalry is tautly constructed, with a wonderfully rich vocabulary and vivid language that blends sophisticated atmosphere with psychological depth. John Ridland's new Modern English translation, unlike most presentations, is complete, covering every passage and word of the Middle English, Northwest Midland dialect original with the same line numbering, contents and meaning. His is the only version written in a familiar modern meterpleasurable to modern ears, yet retaining the spirit of repetition and alliteration of the medieval original. And Dr. Ridland's introduction and notes are enlightening. This translation is a must-have for unlocking all the pleasures and delights of the original classic.
"With his loving rendition of a great classic into vigorous metrical lines, John Ridland has given SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT a fresh lease on life. I've seen several other versions of this masterpiece, but none so engagingly readable as Ridland's. His preface, too, is useful and illuminating. Here is a book to enjoy right now and to cherish forever."X.J. Kennedy
"John Ridland gives us a recognizably English GAWAIN, and a very pleasurable one at that. The language is ours. It is slightly elevated, as befits a work so finely crafted, but only enough to demand our attention. Originally written in the same alliterative verse as Beowulf, SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT was archaic in its own day; now, over six-hundred years later, alliterative verse can be as inaccessible as the pentatonic harp tunes that apparently accompanied it. Ridland gives the poem a long, loose line that sings in the lyrical passages, creeps in the spooky ones, and cavorts in the comic ones. Just as important, the densely mythic ethos, fully intact, enriches every word."Richard Wakefield
"Panoramas of banqueting and hunting, closely observed rituals of dressing, arming, and game preparation, and rich descriptions of landscape and weatherRidland's translation presents these in all their delightful, over-the-top particularity."Maryann Corbett
"The language in which the consummate poet and translator John Ridland serves up this delicious story in verse is exactly what it deserves. The descriptions are exuberant, the narrative flows and exhilarates like the wine at the courts we're asked to imagine, and the exchanges between complex characters so subtly flavored by intelligent diplomacy that it makes the dialogue of much current fiction seem, by contrast, like a six-pack on the front stoop. Read this book. I suspect that, like all enchantments, it shifts and assumes different forms to different eyes. But I do guarantee surprises, and inexhaustible delight."Rhina P. Espaillat
John Ridland, PhD, taught English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for forty-three years. His publications include A Brahms Card Ballad, first published in Hungarian translation, Happy in an Ordinary Thing, and a book-length translation of Petofi's John the Valiant. With Dr. Peter Czipott, Dr. Ridland has translated several other Hungarian poets, including Sandor Marai's The Withering World (Alma Classics, 2013) and Miklos Radnoti's All That Still Matters at All (New American Press, 2014). In 2014 Askew Publications issued his epic poem, A. Lincolniad.
In the first place, Ridland sees himself in this project as a translator -- and by definition he is thereby tasked with rendering accurately the poem that the late-14th-century (1370s? 1380s?) poet wrought. Just because we do not know the poet's name, it is not on that account a vehicle for the poetry version of a 'starchitect' (yes, Mr Armitage: I'm looking at you). In the second place, he strikes exactly the right balance in diction (word choice) such that the poem seems neither stilted and artificially quaint nor off-puttingly adolescent and aggressively unacademic. It is a mistake to suppose that readers cannot be taken into an enchantment that is not of their own time -- and an even worse mistake to suppose that readers don't even want that. The promise of history and of literature from the past is precisely that it shows us what is timeless and what is also, often gloriously, profoundly rooted in a time and place, simultaneously. The time-bound and the timeless: that is what the sensitive reader of any poem can be expected to want. And John Ridland, most evidently, understands that.
In college I became hooked on Old and Middle English poems, so I made a gloss of Gawain in order to understand it. The dialect is that much different from Modern English, or Chaucer's English for that matter, that it seems to be a completely different language. I wish Ridland's translation had been available 50 years ago: it would have saved me a lot of time.
I have little to add to transponder's review of August 6, 2017, except this: once you've read this translation, reread it either aloud or by silently moving your lips. Odd advice, but try it.