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Sir Gawain. Pearl. Sir Orfeo. 1975
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Back to previous page Record Number: 21280
Sir Gawain. Pearl. Sir Orfeo. 1975 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Orfeo

Translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
Edited by Christopher Tolkien
First Edition 1975
George Allen & Unwin
SBN 00482410358
Hardback in dust jacket
Not illustrated
154 pages
Price: £3.95

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo, a collection containing the following works:

  • Preface – by Christopher Tolkien
  • Introduction – by Christopher Tolkien
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Pearl – translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Sir Orfeo – translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Glossary – by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Verse-Forms of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' and 'Pearl' – by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawain’s Leave-Taking – translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
Published between 20 and 27 September 1975.

Details of all British editions of Sir Gawain, Pearl and Sir Orfeo can be found via these links to Tolkienbooks.net:

Blurb – Dust Jacket Flap
Throughout his life Professor J.R.R. Tolkien held alliterative poetry in particular affection, and over many years he endeavoured to perfect translations into current speech of those middle-English poems of which he was most fond.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl, two major and long-neglected poems by an unknown author, derive from the West Midlands, an area of England with which Professor Tolkien felt a strong affinity, and where the alliterative tradition survived strongly in the fourteenth century. Sir Orfeo is a slighter, but no less attractive, poem from a different tradition, and was an especial favourite of its translator.

These three translations represent with great skill the complete rhyme and alliterative schemes of the originals. They constitute a triumphant memorial to a life-long love of language and its expression in metre and verse-form. No scholar who reads them with attention will fail to find illumination, and no reader of Professor Tolkien’s widely known imaginative works will feel disappointed, or fail to perceive in every page flashes of familiarity. It was, indeed, to the general reader that he wished to interpret these poems, and in doing so to lose neither the narrative skill nor the heightened poetic expression of the originals.

Translation of this quality creates and recreates a work of great intrinsic value, and Professor Tolkien would have rejoiced if his part in this process contributes to a more general recognition that Gawain and Pearl is poetry of the highest attainment, coeval with Chaucer’s and in no sense inferior.

This book has been prepared for publication by Christopher Tolkien, who is a fellow and tutor in English of New College, Oxford.

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