God and the Gawain-Poet

December 2015
260 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843844198
Format: Hardback
Library eBook

God and the Gawain-Poet

Theology and Genre in Pearl, Cleanness, Patience and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Cecilia A. Hatt

A fresh examination of the four poems of the Cotton manuscript, arguing that they share a profound theological vision.
Pearl, Cleanness, Patience and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are accomplished examples of four different literary genres and represent some of the finest poetry in Middle English. They are, by turns, fast and funny, powerfully dramatic, gentle and ironic, telling of painful bereavement and the terror of victims of disaster and violence, as well as the comic bewilderment of people entangled in alarmingly mysterious situations.
The anonymous poet's evident delight in the pleasures and artistry of courtly life has led some readers to suggest that he was a gifted but complacent frequenter of courts, his attention dedicated to the wealthy and his sympathies to the powerful, and moreover, that his poems pay the merest lipservice to religious observance. God and the Gawain-poet argues that, on the contrary, the poet's wide-ranging engagement with all human life explicitly acknowledges all material creation as God's gift, revelling in its physicality, in bodily senses and movement and the ways a community celebrates itself. Dr Hatt shows how, in exhorting readers to recognize and respond to the narrative of divine gift, he appears as an energetic Christian poet and a humane and compassionate observer.

Cecilia A. Hatt gained her D.Phil from Oxford University.

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Author Bio

Independent scholar.

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