‘…the Green Knight mounted on his green horse holds his severed head aloft’

Another gem from the British Library blog. Here, Julian Harrison from the Medieval Literature team takes a playful look at the illustrations of the original manuscript.

‘Its full-page illustrations have a charm all of their own, even if they were once dismissed as ‘coarsely executed’. Take, for instance, the scene shown below, which prefaces the poem. At the top of the page, Sir Gawain (dressed in red and holding an axe) is addressing King Arthur and Queen Guinevere at their distinctly un-round table. Below, the Green Knight mounted on his green horse holds his severed head aloft, in front of a clearly bemused Gawain.’

We really like the coarseness of execution here – particularly the weird, abstract shapes surging around the Green Knight’s chapel in the final of the four images. It also seems telling that all the characters, including the Green Knight himself, look eerily like the same person…

Discover more at The British Library’s blog: https://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2021/09/the-green-knight-movie-and-manuscript.html

Join us on 8 December for our Cardiff BookTalk discussion of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and David Lowery’s recent film adaptation starring Dev Patel and Alicia Vikander: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cardiff-booktalk-the-green-knight-registration-182773860537

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