SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT by Selina--Adapt. Hastings


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Constance Hieatt's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is no longer in print, alas, so librarians will have to decide whether a lackluster retelling accompanied by quasi-medieval/somewhat Pre-Raphaelite illustrations is better than no single-volume version of this great Arthurian tale at all. Faced with Hastings' ineptness as a storyteller, it's easy to say no. When the hulking Green Knight appears at Arthur's Court to utter his challenge, he talks here simply about exchanging blows with one of the knights--not about each trying to behead the other: what stuns the knights, and makes Gawain's acceptance of the challenge so awesome, is his acceptance of the need to sever the Green Knight's head. . . and his promise to seek out the Green Knight and offer up his own head a year later. Along with the blurring of the story's dramatic highpoints goes the insertion of much extraneous descriptive detail--with a resulting lack of both tension and momentum. As for the illustrations, they're literal (so we see the headless body spouting blood) and ossified: in sum, masque-like. It's all very much a resurrection, not a reimagining--and altogether unnecessary if the Hieatt is still on hand.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1981
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard