Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. J. R. R. Tolkien, E. V. Gordon.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960. Early printing. 12mo. (7 3/8 inches tall), original green cloth, original dust jacket. Book fine, pencil annotations to first page of text, very faint toning to spine of dust jacket. About-fine. Item #682

SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT Later edition of a critical study of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an early collaboration between J.R.R. Tolkien and a colleague at the University of Leeds. Sir Gawain is one of four poems (along with Pearl, Purity, and Patience) thought to have been composed by a single anonymous author. They survive in a vellum manuscript (dating to about 1400) housed in the Cotton Collection in the British Museum. In 1925, Tolkien and his young Leeds colleague, "E.V. Gordon collaborated on an edition of Sir Gawain, Tolkien handling the text, Gordon the notes. United in their distaste for pedantry," Tolkien and Gordon, according to the brief Preface, hoped to free the modern reader "from a litter of italics, asterisks, and brackets, the trail of a passing editor." The edition "succeeded admirably. The Modern Language Review praised the book, in unconscious echo of the poem's alliteration, for its 'clearness, conciseness, scholarship, and commonsense" (Zaleski and Zaleski).

This edition is illustrated with a frontispiece, "The Lady of the Castle Visits Sir Gawain" and another plate reproducing "The Beginning of the Text." The text is preceded by a brief Preface, a lengthy and valuable Introduction (the Manuscript, the History of the Legend, Treatment of the Source, the Author and his Work, Date, Dialect), a Select Bibliography, and an editorial note ("The Text") concerning new information regarding the offset: "Since the last edition of Sir Gawain was published, Dr. Knott has pointed out the textual value of the 'offset.' When the manuscript was written the leaves were closed together before the ink was dry, with the result that here and there it stuck to the opposite page and left words illegible in their original position." The text is supplemented with copious end Notes, a lengthy Glossary, and a brief Index of Names. First published in 1925, followed by a revised and corrected second edition in 1930. Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings.

Price: $50.00

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