Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: with Pearl and Sir Orfeo

Written by:
J.R.R. Tolkien
Narrated by:
Terry Jones

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2006
4 hours 24 minutes
A collection of three medieval English poems, translated by Tolkien for the modern-day reader and containing romance, tragedy, love, sex and honour.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl are two poems by an unknown author written in about 1400. Sir Gawain is a romance, a fairy-tale for adults, full of life and colour; but it is also much more than this, being at the same time a powerful moral tale which examines religious and social values.

Pearl is apparently an elegy on the death of a child, a poem pervaded with a sense of great personal loss: but, like Gawain it is also a sophisticated and moving debate on much less tangible matters.

Sir Orfeo is a slighter romance, belonging to an earlier and different tradition. It was a special favourite of Tolkien’s.

The three translations represent the complete rhyme and alliterative schemes of the originals.
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While I enjoyed the clear and expressive narration, I was disturbed to discover that in at least one section of Sir Gawain, several lines have been omitted. This, despite the fact that the book is clearly designated "unabridged" and DESPITE the fact that, for Tolkien, the abridgement involves one of the most significant parts of the poem (in other words, Tolkien would have been appalled). For my part, I feel cheated. I also wonder what else has been omitted without detection, why the deletion occurred, and perhaps what almighty progressive scholar deemed it necessary. Highly disappointed.

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