Episode 15
June 12, 2020

A Weird Faerie Sex Game

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned talk about Jared’s choice of topic: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Tolkien’s posthumously published translation of said poem. Written around 1400 by a still anonymous author in the West Midlands region of England, Sir Gawain has long been one of the most notable works of late medieval English literature, and Tolkien both worked on a scholarly edition of the poem with his colleague E.V. Gordon first published in 1925 as well as developing the translation which he finished in the early 1950s, and which has since become his most well-known work on the text. What possible influence on Tolkien’s own work can be found in the poem—or is there any real influence as such at all? What could be the significance of the seemingly contrasting elements of fairy story, chivalry and blunt, almost documentary-like detailing of hunting procedures? What was Tolkien aiming for with his own particular translation and how does it differ from others? And maybe above all else: how DO you pronounce Gawain’s name, much less spell it?

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Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle for the episode. I mean, you might as well go for it.

Black Lives Matter and there it is.

Anyway yes, Samuel R. Delany! Octavia E. Butler! N. K. Jemisin! Marlon James! Zetta Elliott! Many many many more besides. Why deny yourself great writing?

As for, shall we say, militarized police forces in non-Shire settings, there’s plenty of reading out there.

The ramping up of filming in New Zealand is happening, not without various questions and concerns, but we’ll see where it goes.

Print-to-order hardback History of Middle-earth books? Go nuts.

There is a LOT of scholarship out there on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and we’re not going to pretend to be able to give a proper survey of it. If you’d like to see the original untranslated text, though, here you go, and if you want more on spelling and (maybe) pronunciation, a starting point is here.

Here’s Luke Shelton’s post about how the name Tulkas, one of the Valar, may be derived from the Sir Gawain poem.

Courtly love? Oh there’s a lot out there about that too.

A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman is indeed a cracking read.

Patrick Wyman’s Tides of History is a very enjoyable podcast for sure. Some of the specific episodes covering the period of English history the Gawain poet lived in have apparently passed out from being available for whatever reason, but these episodes in particular make for informative listening and for scholarly recommendations.

The Green Chapel is very clearly a neolithic site, as evidenced by the Newgrange site in Ireland.

There is indeed an official audiobook version of Tolkien’s translation, read by medievalist and Monty Python cast member Terry Jones.

Alternate translations noted by Jared: Bernard O’Donoghue’s and Simon Armitage’s.

E.R. Eddison was indeed a skilled writer. But, as they say, a caution. Tolkien’s assessment of him, positive and negative, can be found quoted at the end of this short piece.

The Matter of Britain is ultimately rather French.

Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur is an interesting experiment, if incomplete.

The Gawain Poet’s identity is still up for debate.

The history of hunting in England is rather extensive. Leave it to the Daily Telegraph to review a book about it back in 2007. (Thankfully not everyone is fond of the sport’s modern incarnation.)

Homoeroticism in Sir Gawain? You don’t say!

Turns out there are three film versions of Sir Gawain—the first, from 1973, was remade into 1984’s Sword of the Valiant by the same director one decade later, but yeah, Miles O’Keeffe and Sean Connery and company don’t exactly stick the landing. In the meantime, we await A24 and Dev Patel.

Some Order of the Garter info if you need it.

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