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By Derek Brewer, Jonathan Gibson

The essays amassed the following at the Gawain-Poet provide stimulating introductions to Sir Gawain and the fairway Knight, Pearl, Cleanness and persistence, supplying either details and unique research. issues contain theories of authorship; the historic and social heritage to the poems, with person sections on relatively very important positive factors inside them; gender roles within the poems; the manuscript itself; the metre, vocabulary and dialect of the poems; and their resources. a bit dedicated to Sir Gawain investigates the tips of courtesy and chivalry stumbled on inside of it, and explores a few of its later diversifications from the 15th to the 20 th centuries. an entire bibliography completes the amount.

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In this respect the Gawain-poet is historically more English than Chaucer and Gower, but again we should note his use of iambic metrical forms and numerological structures associated with European verse, and on the other hand the association of Langland's alliterative poetry, and that of St Erkenwald, with non-provincial London. The Gawain-poet has different sets of differences from and similarities with different contemporaries. Like Langland he writes in alliterative verse, is deeply devout, has a sardonic humour, is not interested in romantic ('courtly') love.

There is a frequent subtle humour, often dramatically conveyed in speech. Jonah's testiness in some of his conversations with the Almighty is an example. There is a wry amusement at fatherly obtuseness or irritation in Pearl, and the poet represents himself as a father making the naive supposition, quite missing the true point, being at once too proud and too fatherly-depressive, that his little daughter might be made a countess in heaven but a queen, that is much too high (48993). In Cleanness, where the poet permits himself a freedom of abrasive narrative comment which is not found in the other poems, he sarcastically remarks that Belshazzar's lemmans (concubines) had to be called ladies at the feast (1370); and that Chaldean clerks knew no more of the writing on the wall that 'if they had looked at the leather of my left boot' (1581).

The desirability of these qualities has been challenged by Lacan and his followers, if I understand them, not without reason even if denying reason. But for example if there is patriarchy in SGGK and Pearl there is also a questioning of patriarchy. In both there is a feminisation of the subject. In Pearl is the paradox of hierarchy that is equality. The uncertainty of closure in both these poems and 3 I am indebted to Dr Sarah Kay of Girton College for Lacanian references. She is not responsible for any incomprehension I may show.

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