Listen free for 30 days

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Narrated by: Terry Jones
Length: 4 hrs and 25 mins
4 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

A collection of three medieval English poems, translated by Tolkien for the modern-day reader and containing romance, tragedy, love, sex and honour.
©1975 J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust; (p)1997 HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, UK

Critic reviews

"The introduction to Gawain is a little masterpiece." ( Times Higher Educational Supplement)
"This magnificent Arthurian tale of love, sex, honour, social tact, personal integrity and folk-magic is one of the greatest and most approachable narrative poems in the language. Tolkien's version makes it come triumphantly alive, a moving and consoling elegy." ( Birmingham Post)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    28
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    23
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    22
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good stories brilliantly read by Terry Jones

Terry Jones gives a brilliant reading and the introductions and poems themselves are very interesting. Although younger Tolkein fans may find some moments in this collection a little bit difficult to get into.
Being a picky type, I deducted one star for a bit of sloppy presentation here and there. The download has been taken from a CD package and two random rounge 'end of disc' moments have made it to the download. The joy of audio books is getting lost in a story and these few moments break that feeling. But pickyness aside this is a good quality, but not outstanding choice that I would recomend to old and young listeners alike.
If you enjoy a bit of Tolkien, the tales of King Arthur, Monty Python or a you like a bit of a theological edge to your listening, you will find a lot to enjoy here.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Connective Tissue of the long-missing link between the Bardic Oral Tradition of Arthurian Britain, and Middle-English(Earth)

The term "Middle Earth" is not intended, popularised but in no sense invented by Professor Tolkien - in his joint role as the foremost Medievalist and Linguist of the last Age, just recently passed (and past) - has oft been an obscure, obtuse, elusive designation to come to grips with, define in any concrete/materialist sense, notoriously difficult to firmly pin down.

It is as well that it is so. And it bespeaks further the restrained, cautious, meticulously precise character of the great fabulist, that this and countless other resonant tropes, terms and references to Myth/Ancient, Pre-Roman European History, the Biblical Patriarchs who preceded Noah's Flood and the Great Deluge are all presented, where they occur, unashamedly, nor even without any sense of the need for such false shame and otherwise afflicts the Proud, Proud Men, especially of the long-established scholastic Oligarchs, desperately scrambling to keep clung hold onto the final tatters of their Sacred rag-doll fetish of their domestic household gods of Expert Opinion, the pye-eyed Golem of institutional respectability and professional credibility which serves as the Champion of all who would exist day by day quartering within themselves the secret, private dread of suffering loss of face, any small humiliation that augers the possibility of embarrassment, even ridicule on the part of some, a few, perhaps even just a single one personal professional rival amongst his peers.

In the rarefied, homogenised, Yet cosmopolitan academy of Today, practically any Professor, even one of English Literature at one of the grandest and oldest seats of Higher Learning on the planet almostu certainly have some hesitation, mixed with apprehension, not to say a wave even of just outright fright, when proposing even a modestly Grand Unifying Theory of History of The Britons and the lands of the British Isles, and encompassing a span of centuries and events stretching from the landfall of Noah's Ark, to around 1350 and the Age of Chaucer and the origins of modern English and it's earliest narrative accomplishments in written literature.

And of those few might dare even attempt such a daunting challenge, it would be a bold Grown-wearer indeed who might feel confident enough to explicitly tie that history into the speculated fantasy Mythos he had constructed under, around and behind his bestselling fantasy novel and it's sequels and spin-offs originally written so as to be of greatest appeal to 8 year old boys, young adults and adult readers of a somewhat juvenille disposition of mind.....

But it is there, already in the background of England and of the British Peoples, and in the landscape, in the very lay of the land - and Truth is Truth, so what else is there to do, but bring it into the foreground, provide context and explain circumstance that brings these Truths and the realities together as Myth, Song, Fable and Satire, but to tell these stories, woven together as a single, coherent, epic narrative that constitutes the material fabric of a nation, it's People, their complete history up to the present time, and their connection to the lands and the landscapes of their birth.

Lo, I do see My Father.

Lo, I do see my Mother, and my Sisters and my Brothers.

Lo, I do see the line of my people, back to The Beginning.

Lo, They do welcome Me, and bid me take my place amongst Them,
In the Halls of Valhalla,

Where The Brave
May Live
For Ever.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Shannon Slee
  • Shannon Slee
  • 15-07-18

An absolute delight!

I read Gawain in college in a different translation. I found revisiting the tale through Tolkien’s translation to be incredibly enjoyable. Pearl and Orfeo are two works that were previously unknown to me, and I am so glad they were included in this compilation. A real treasure! The alliterative verse is music to the ears. The performance of the reading of these three masterpieces is excellent!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lisa M. Stapp
  • Lisa M. Stapp
  • 06-10-18

Like Visiting with an Old Friend, Only Better.

I enjoyed SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT when I took my first English course at (what was then called) North Harris County Community College. It was in a huge peach-colored book that covered English literature through Shakespeare, I think.

I was surprised to learn that I like epic poetry. I still like it.

At that time, we didn't cover PEARL or SIR ORFEO.

This translation and introduction by J.R.R. Tolkien brought all the pleasure back to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I can't wait to read it again, but I have too many books on my "TO-READ" list to do that quite yet.

The fact that this is an audiobook makes it even better. These poems are meant to be heard, not read.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for James
  • James
  • 01-07-14

The best translation

If you could sum up Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in three words, what would they be?

Tolkien, Arthurian poetry

Any additional comments?

Terry Jones did a brilliant reading and Tolkien 's translation of these poems are the best around.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lritzcracker
  • Lritzcracker
  • 26-07-19

Lovely

Lovely tales from old English translated by lovely Tolkien. A classic tale, Gwain and the Green Knight But beautifully put into regular English without losing the feel of a poem. And a bonus two poems. Pearl is very religious heavy, but gorgeous. Still old English ways and thoughts but into modern tongue put. A bit harder to get through as the religious stuff (if you know your Faith well it seems tedious) the story loses and gets bogged down. But then is uplifted be the poem about the Minstrel King. Beautiful tale, that one. Tolkien is a genius, taking hard to read and write old English and putting it into our modern day English without losing the meter and verse of the poem. A true genius. A delight even if you don’t know Tolkien.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alana K. Asby
  • Alana K. Asby
  • 12-03-19

Wonderful

Excellent. Tolkien's genius is evident in this superb translation of three old English poems. In fact, it seems as though they provided some of the source material for The Lord of the Rings.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Roger
  • Roger
  • 27-10-18

Great poems from our English past

These 3 poems are in Old English, updated by Tolkien. They are by contemporaries of Chaucer. If you listen carefully to the narratives and can put them into the social and religious context of the time, they will be revealed for the great works of literary art that they are.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David
  • David
  • 21-09-18

Good performance.

The narrator did a good job of putting emotion into the verses. It was a little hard to follow, but I really enjoyed all three stories.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dragonfly Samurai
  • Dragonfly Samurai
  • 02-04-17

Don't worry Arthur. I've got this. (Gawain)

What made the experience of listening to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the most enjoyable?

It was great listening to something of such an ancient date. I may have never listened to this before, but then I saw J.R.R. Tolkien and thought I could give it a try. It's a good story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?

The first appearance of the Green Knight.

What does Terry Jones bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I cannot say.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I did not. It's a great short story. I don't remember how old it is, but what a great way to get people interested in ancient stories by having a great and well known Author rewrite it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Corey
  • Corey
  • 16-02-20

Good but a slog towards the end

Starts of strong with the Green Knight and transitions well into the beginnings of Pearl but somewhere in the middle I found it hard to maintain focus, not because of the vocal performance either, just that the old English styling becomes a slog of fanciful and overly done by today's standards of descriptors. Overall mostly enjoyable however.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ian D. Colte
  • Ian D. Colte
  • 24-12-19

Unlike any form of literature I've encountered.

While the story is not unfamiliar, the structure and cadence is completely different from what I expected. I thought that because of the period (High Middle Ages) it would feel like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It took awhile to get used to the unexpected, but Tolkien's translation keeps the pacing natural and the speaker clearly practiced for this performance. Worth the listen for uncommon insight into this period of English history and language.