This month, I composed a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in 101 tweets, corresponding to the 101 stanzas of the original Middle English alliterative poem. This project was inspired by Elaine Treharne’s translation of the Old English poem Beowulf in 100 tweets and Alice-Catherine Jennings’s translation of the Old French poem Song of Roland in 291 tweets. To create my translation, I cross-referenced Neilson’s translation with the original Middle English text.
I was thinking about Gawain because I have been reading it with my undergraduate seminar, Literary Approaches to the Past. One of the themes of the course is the way that attitudes toward the distant past find expression not only in literature but also in the material conditions of its production, transmission, and reception. We began with William Caxton’s printed edition of Thomas Malory’s MorteDarthur, and we will end with Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court
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