Monday, February 29, 2016

Rereading Gawain

Over the past ten years or more, I've participated a number of times in a small "scholarship" program my department has with the local public library.  Basically, each semester, there's a small sum of money (we call this sum a "donut fund" because you could use it to buy donuts for the department a couple of times a year, but that's about it), and it goes to a faculty member who runs a four session (usually over four or five weeks) program at the local public library.

In 2005, I wrote about doing my first program, on The Winter's Tale here and here (it actually ran in spring 2006, so ten years ago!).  Then in 2010, I did a program on some of The Canterbury Tales.  I also did a program one year on Macbeth, another on films and Henry V, and another year on some early modern lyric poems.  So I've been pretty active with the program over the years.

This year, I'm doing a program on Gawain and the Green Knight.  The last session is tomorrow, so tonight I was rereading the final part of the poem (using Simon Armitage's translation), and oh, what a poem.

I think I'm more aware of my failings these days, because I find myself feeling much more charitable about Gawain this reading.  (It's probably been about 10 years since I've taught Gawain.  I haven't taught it very often, a couple of times in an old style survey, and a couple of times in a texts course.)  I was pretty teary-eyed during the ax scene.

I'm looking forward to the discussion.  We had fun last week talking about the hunting scenes (outside and in).  I wonder how some of the group will find this part!

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