Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

111—Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—Anthony Esolen

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 02, 2021 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Today we discuss one of the greatest Arthurian tales, told by one of the most virtuosic poets in the history of English, an anonymous priest of the 14th century. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight tells us a lot about courtesy, chivalry, original sin, and grace, all bound up in an enormously entertaining story about a giant, decapitation-surviving green knight.

Poet and critic Anthony Esolen joins the show to discuss the poem, its Middle English dialect, and the tradition of alliterative verse.


Marie Boroff’s translation of the complete works of the Gawain-poet

Simon Armitage’s facing-page translation including the original Middle English

Dana Gioia essay, “Accentual Verse”

Magdalen College, where Esolen teaches, still has spaces open in its 2021 freshman class!

Anthony Esolen, The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord

Esolen on his poem The Hundredfold

Esolen discusses Stagecoach on Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

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Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: stpetric - Aug. 07, 2021 2:19 PM ET USA

    Your discussion of the difficulties moderns encounter reading medieval literature reminds me a comment a friend of mine made many years ago. She -- a believer -- taught American literature at Yale, and she said she spent half her time simply teaching her students to recognize biblical allusions. Such literacy had simply been bred out of them.