Size / / /

In the last column, we considered the first fitt, or chapter, of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—a bizarre and wonderful fourteenth-century Middle English verse romance, which contains a variety of wonders, marvels, and monsters, plus more magic than you can shake a stick at.

During the luxurious Christmas feasts at Camelot, we met young Sir Gawain and the rest of the merry crowd, and were treated to the astonishing spectacle of a great green man riding into King Arthur's dining hall and demanding that someone chop off his head. Gawain, being the chivalrous young man he is—and a blood relation of King Arthur, which means he has high standards to live up to—volunteered, thus freeing Arthur himself from having to accept the stranger's challenge.

But after Gawain had taken off the Green Knight's head with one sweep of an ax, the Knight shocked the assembled company by standing up, collecting his own decapitated head, and cheerfully commanding Gawain to fulfill his side of the bargain by meeting him in a year's time, in the Knight's own unknown domain, to suffer the same fate—that is, beheading at the hands of the Knight.

Arthur, being the King he is, tried to laugh off what had happened. Everyone turned back to their feasting and flirting, just as if they hadn't witnessed an incredibly disturbing event featuring an apparently immortal green giant. But Gawain, of course, can't so easily forget. In a year's time, he is bound by his own code of honor to go meet his death. Even a knight of Camelot can't face that thought with total equanimity!

So ends the first fitt of Sir Gawain, and so begins the second: with alarm, procrastination, and, after the excuses have run out, the beginning of a journey.

FITT THE SECOND: In which Gawain procrastinates for a long time, and then takes up his fanciest shield to go out and fight some woodwos

The Gawain poet opens his second fitt by describing the passing of time in terms tied to the ritual and to the natural year. After the opening in medias res during the Christmas feast, and the "gift" of the Green Knight's unexpected appearance and bizarre challenge, the poet takes us right out of the Christmas celebrations, and on to the seasons that follow. In fact, in the course of a few verses, he draws us almost through the entire subsequent year.

For Gawain, of course, the passage of time marks the ticking away of the days before which he must ride to seek out the Green Knight's abode—and, it seems likely, to there lose his head to the giant's ax. We don't see him making any preparations, though, which raises a few questions: what is Gawain doing? and: why is he doing it?

The modern reader, of course, is likely to wonder whether Gawain is really planning to go seek out the Green Knight at all. The answer here has to be yes. In the first fitt, Gawain made a pledge to the knight, formally, in the presence of everyone in Arthur's hall: in exchange for striking the Knight with his ax, he accepted the Knight's terms, which were to come find the Knight in one year's time and bare his own neck to the ax. Whether Gawain thought he would ever actually have to fulfill his half of the bargain is irrelevant; since the Knight, improbably, survived their first encounter, Gawain is now honor-bound to perform what he has promised to do.

In Arthur's court, with its idealized version of medieval chivalry, a knight's word is his bond. Honor is a knight's currency—his cultural capital, if you will—and a measure of his prestige. So Gawain doesn't have the option of chickening out, unless he wants to give up his status and identity—all the things to which he attaches value. Not to mention the concept, floating behind this literary-chivalric worldview, that a knight's ability to fight and to survive is directly, causally linked to how well he does in obeying the promises he's made to God and to the Virgin Mary. So we can also imagine Gawain as having something like status bars—we might label them Virtue, or Piety—which will, or at least might, influence his ability to win battles and survive attacks.

And yet, even knowing that he has to go, Gawain keeps on putting off his preparations. As witness to this, the poet presents us with the spectacle of the turning year. In Arthur's court, the seasons are marked by the holidays of the Christian calendar, which the poet interweaves with descriptions of the changing natural world. After the Christmas feasts, with their startling interruption, come "the lean days of Lent," in late winter, which Arthur's people observe by eating "fish and simple food" (ll. 502-3).

Then spring returns, and the hedgerows blossom. Summer follows, with the "west wind sigh[ing] among shoots and seeds," and hard on its heels comes autumn, to "harden the harvest." "[Y]esterday on yesterday the year dies away, / and winter returns, as is the way of the world" (ll. 517-21, 529-30).

The approach of returning winter is heralded to Arthur's people by the feast of Michaelmas, a few days after the autumnal equinox. The September moon "stands like that season's sign," says the poet, "a warning to Gawain / to rouse himself and ride" (ll. 533-5). Yet Gawain sticks around until the end of the month . . . and then the next. In fact, he is still in the court when All Saints' Day arrives on the first of November. And finally, on that day, after being feasted by the whole court, he speaks to his uncle, the king, to secure his permissions to ride out and fulfill his bargain. He takes leave of the knights that evening, and the following morning, at last, Gawain rides out from Camelot.

Since much of the rest of this fitt is devoted to Gawain's ensuing quest around Britain, seeking the Green Chapel, it's always seemed bizarre to me that Gawain puts off leaving as long as he does. As the reader will remember from Fitt One, part of Gawain's Christmas-challenge agreement with the Knight was that Gawain would bear the responsibility for finding the Knight's dwelling place on his own, knowing only its name but not its location. Since Gawain doesn't leave until November, the upshot is that he now has to face a very nasty two-month quest through increasingly noxious English weather. Wouldn't it have been more logical to start this part of the quest in the spring or summer? Once Gawain found where the Green Knight lived, couldn't he have checked in, said hi, and then returned to Camelot to stay comfortably until the time came to ride back and be beheaded?

Then again, in story terms, doing things that way probably wouldn't have been as dramatic. And from the psychological perspective, Gawain's fear of death probably contributes to his dilatoriness. (I'd guess that many of us can understand that feeling. And isn't it nice to know that even the knights of Camelot have a problem with procrastination?)

**

In any case, on the first of November, at long last Gawain sets off through the wilderness. He is all on his own, clad in his magnificent armor, and riding his horse Gringolet. (Gringolet, incidentally, is one of those animals that have legendary names and reputations in their own right. He shows up as Gawain's mount in other Camelot stories as well. If you're a Tolkien fanatic like me, you can see where he got his ideas for the Rohirrim's named horses, can't you? Middle-Earth horse names even share the same rhythm. As for Gringolet's name, the sound of it makes me think of him with a long, ringleted mane and tail, like a My Little Pony; but according to Wikipedia, the name probably comes from Welsh and suggests sturdiness.)

This is also probably a good time to mention Gawain's shield. When Gawain is getting ready, on his last morning in Camelot, to ride out in his armor, the poet stalls his narrative to give us two full verses about the design on this shield: "And why the [the design] was appropriate to that prince [i.e. Gawain]," he writes, "I intend to say, though it will stall our story" (ll. 623-4).

This shield, the poet would like you to know, is brilliant red. On the back—that is, the inside, where Gawain can see it while he's fighting—is an image of the Virgin Mary, meant to give him courage. On the outside, where everyone else can see it, is a bright gold "pentangle."

This pentangle—by which is apparently meant a pentagram, or five-pointed star—is really a fascinating bit of iconography. The poet tells us, "It is a symbol that Solomon once set in place / and is taken to this day as a token of fidelity" (ll. 625-6), and goes on to clarify for us exactly how the pentagram represents Sir Gawain's knightly virtues. From the poet's point of view, these virtues are deeply Christian, merge the physical and the spiritual, and are profoundly chivalric. Not only do the points of the star stand for Gawain's five perfect fingers and five flawless senses, but they also represent "the five wounds / Christ received on the cross," and "the five joys / which Mary had conceived in her son, our Savior" (ll. 643-8). Other aspects of the sign are also associated with Gawain's purity: its gold represents his flawlessness of character, and the "eternal," or knotted, aspect of this symbol is taken to suggest Gawain's faithfulness—his "fidelity" to his religion and to the Virgin Mary, who here seems to have become the "beloved lady" to whom any chivalrous knight must dedicate all his deeds.

What's really interesting about the pentagram, though, is its connotations in other magical traditions—associations that are far stronger today than any connection with Christanity. The so-called Seal of Solomon (as Wikipedia helpfully summarizes for us) was "in Medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic legends . . . a magical signet ring said to have been possessed by King Solomon, which variously gave him the power to command demons (or jinni), genies, or to speak with animals." One tale from The Thousand Nights and a Night involves "an evil djinn . . . imprisoned in a copper bottle for 1,800 years by a lead seal stamped by the ring." And any contemporary practitioner of Tarot is familiar with another more-or-less modern manifestation of the pentacle, in a context decidedly more aligned with magic than with Christianity.

All of which goes to point out that, more often than not, it is hard to categorically distinguish the beliefs and symbols associated with "religion" from those associated with "magic." This gets even more tangled when one person's superstition is another's belief system; and it's even trickier when we're looking at a medieval world like Gawain's, which is, in some senses, close to ours, but far enough away (800 years being a long minute) that in many ways it's like another culture entirely. Is Gawain's pentacle a "true" representation of Christianity, or an intruding symbol from the world of apocrypha and alchemy? Does it bear a whiff of the pre-Christian world? I have no answers here. I just want to point out that it's fascinating; and also that the ways it seems to encode both medieval Christianity and other, parallel traditions is interestingly metonymic for the poem as a whole.

So, anyway: Gawain and Gringolet (plus Gawain's shield) head out into the wilds. From here, Gawain wanders in the wilderness for nearly two months, growing increasingly uncomfortable as he goes. One interesting thing about this journeying is that it gives us a little geographical tour of what is presumably the poet's corner of Britain. From Camelot—which, itself, as a place is notoriously difficult to locate, in this and in other texts—Gawain makes his way up to the northern coast of Wales, passing by the straits which separate the Isles of Anglesey from the mainland, and heads into the Wirral Peninsula. The poem views this region as a thickly forested wilderness, bleak and mountainous, increasingly craggy, and increasingly abandoned.

And as he presses on, moving from inhabited places into increasingly deserted ones, Gawain keeps on asking the central question on his mind:

[H]e constantly enquires of those he encounters
if they know, or not, in this neck of the woods
of a great green man or a Green Chapel.
No, they say, never. Never in their lives.
They know of neither a chap nor a chapel
           so strange.
     He trails through bleak terrain.
     His moods and manner change
     at every twist and turn
     towards that chosen church. (ll. 703-12)

Gawain's despondency aside, there are aspects of this part of the story that, despite myself, I find rather funny. Here's why: The poet drops a few tantalizing hints about the incredible adventures Sir Gawain encounters on his way—hints we'll return to in a moment. But he doesn't tell us very much about them. Instead, the poet crams them all into a couple of lines. And then he spends the rest of his time telling us about . . . what else? . . . the weather.

Boy, do we hear an awful lot about the weather! Oh, unhappy Sir Gawain: "passing long dark nights unloved and alone, / foraging to feed . . . with no friend but his horse" (ll. 693-5). Pitiful to read how "[w]ith nerves frozen numb he napped in his armor, / bivouacked in the blackness amongst bare rocks / where meltwater streamed from snow-capped summits / and high overhead hung chandeliers of ice" (ll. 729-32). And if that doesn't move your heart, I challenge you not to feel sorry for Gawain as, with the end of December approaching, he rides into a deep, forested valley, where "[u]nder cover of [tree-]canopy he girded Gringolet / through mud and marshland, a most mournful man . . . and bedraggled birds on bare, black branches / piped pitifully into the piercing cold" (ll. 745-9). Peeping birds!

Personally, I like this part of the Gawain poem a lot. That's only partly due to the vivid, evocative sense of landscape; it's also because—thinking about this, now, from the perspective of a contemporary fantasy reader—it exemplifies one of the aspects of the "quest story" trope that's so indispensable to making stories seem real. To wit, that, generally speaking, questing is just plain not a lot of fun. At least, the riding-around-in-armor-in-the-middle-of-winter part isn't. Even a trained knight like Sir Gawain, who is successful in his profession and has been practicing riding in armor since he was a child, is not enjoying this part of the experience at all. It seems obvious that, were it not for his vow, Gawain would much rather be back in Camelot, sharing the pre-Christmas feasts with the rest of the court and flirting with the ladies. Which is, after all—let's be honest—the really fun part of being a knight.

But then of course there are also the passing references I mentioned to the incredible adventures Gawain also meets during this trip. The poet condenses all this into half a verse. In fact, in an incredible four lines, the poet drops the names of no fewer than seven kinds of monsters. Here's the excerpt:

In a strange region [Gawain] scales steep slopes,
far from his friends he cuts a lonely figure. . . .
So momentous are his travels among the mountains
to tell just a tenth would be a tall order.
Here he scraps with serpents and snarling wolves,
here he tangles with wodwos causing trouble in the crags,
or with bulls and bears and the odd wild boar.
Hard on his heels through the highlands come giants.
Only diligence and faith in the face of death
Will keep him from becoming a corpse or carrion. (ll. 713-24)

And that's it! No further detail. The next lines continue: "[Though] the wars were one thing . . . winter was worse," and goes on to talk some more about the weather.

Now, it seems pretty clear to me that the poet is teasing us here. This isn't the first time he's implied that there's more going on than he has time to explicate. "To tell just a tenth would be a tall order," indeed! I suspect the Gawain poet guesses full well that we'd like to hear more about these momentous adventures. But, of course, the poet has an agenda: he wants to get Gawain out of the wilderness and on to the next castle—to which we will follow him in due time.

I, however, would like to tarry over these elided battles with the creatures of the cliffs and wilderness. Because, to me, this verse reads like a pocket-sized précis of pretty much everything that is most awesome about medieval adventure quests. Stuck in the North English wilderness! Fording through forests and highlands! Battling seven monsters in four lines! Who, then—let us ask the question— are these foes?

Let us probe their secrets, one by one.

HERE HE SCRAPS WITH SERPENTS . . .

What exactly does the Gawain poet mean by "serpents"? Admittedly, snakes can be pretty nasty. But how active would they have been in November and December? And how dangerous is a snake to a knight in armor? How menacing are these snakes, anyway?

Where he bridges a brook or wades through a waterway
ill fortune brings him face-to-face with a foe
so foul or fierce he is bound to use force,

or so says the poet (ll. 715-16). Presumably, then, we're not talking about a grass snake here. So what exactly is Sir Gawain fighting?

At this point, it might be useful to consider what word the Gawain poet is using for "serpent." Here's the Middle English—with the monsters—line by line:

Sumwhyle wyth wormes he werres, and with wolves als,
     Here he scraps with serpents and snarling wolves,
Sumwhyle with wodwos that woned in the knarres,
     here he tangles with wodwos causing trouble in the crags,
Bothe with bulles and beres, and bores otherquyle,
     or with bulls and bears and the odd wild boar.
And etaynes that hym anelede of the heghe felle.
     Hard on his heels through the highlands come giants. (ll. 720-23)

Ah, there we are! Sir Gawain isn't just fighting serpents; he is fighting "wormes." And a Middle English worm can be anything from an earthworm, up through a garden snake or serpent, up to—does it go without saying? —a dragon.

So was the poet thinking of Gawain as fighting dragons? Well, maybe and maybe not. On the one hand, dragons do figure importantly in British mythology. Wales has been symbolized by a dragon since the early Middle Ages, and Saint George, the patron saint of England, is notably associated with dragon-slaying. One might also think of Beowulf, the great Old English epic with its fiery dragon, written in England several hundred years before.

Then again, Beowulf was set in Scandinavia, and Saint George was supposed to have fought his dragon in North Africa (or so said Jacob de Voragine in his vastly influential thirteenth-century Golden Legend, a compilation of the lives of the saints). So those dragons weren't supposed to have lived in England, but in other, even more exotic lands.

On the third hand, though—how can we make anything of the "worms" at all if we look purely to realism? Present-day England has only one native species of venomous snake (thanks again, Wikipedia!), and it doesn't grow more than two feet long. Northwestern England isn't the equatorial jungle. Presumably we are not being asked to imagine Sir Gawain fighting cobras, or fending off pythons dropping on his head. And Scotland and northern England do have traditions of stories about enormous snakes, often named for the places or families with which they are associated: there are the Linton Worm, the Sockburn Worm, the Lambton Worm (the latter large enough to wrap its tail "ten times" around Penshaw Hill, which suggests quite a long tail indeed).

Whatever Sir Gawain is supposed to be fighting, it's dangerous enough for the poet to refer to his enemies as "foo[s] . . . foule and . . . felle" (foes foul and fell), and strange enough to be qualified as "mervayl," or marvels (ll. 716-18). So what's the deal? Should we imagine Sir Gawain battling a "realistic" English garden snake? Maybe. Or maybe we should imagine him struggling with a huge constrictor, of the sort never seen (in reality) north of the tropics. Or maybe we should pull a Saint George, let our mental geography blur and fuzz, and envision Gawain beating down a snowy English forest that's just crawling with dragons.

. . . AND SNARLING WOLVES

Despite all the mythology and symbolism that has accrued to them, I think wolves count among those beasts that don't really need fantastic additions to make them terrifying to humans. A grey wolf can, at its largest, reach nearly six feet long, and three feet high at the shoulder. They prefer to hunt in packs. They are more than capable of killing us.

Once there really were wild wolves in Britain. Humans hunted them to extinction; the last wild wolf sightings in Scotland date, it seems, from the seventeenth century. At the time of the thirteenth-century Gawain poet, however, they would have been very much alive.

As ecologists and contemporary friends-of-wolves are quick to point out, wolves rarely attack humans, and that only when they're hungry or afraid. But in Gawain's England, in a world before firearms, with wolf populations high in those sparsely inhabited lands and hungry in the ever-deepening winter, they might have been very dangerous indeed for a lone man on horseback.

For flavor, here is a short extract from the historian William Camden's work Britannia, published in 1588. Here he describes an area of Scotland that was

. . . haunted and annoyed by most cruel wolves. Which in such violent rage not only set upon cattle to the exceeding great damage of the inhabitants, but also assail men with great danger . . . in so much, as by virtue of an act of Parliament, the Sheriffs and inhabitants in every Country are commanded to go forth thrice a year a hunting, for to destroy the wolves and their whelps.

For Gawain and Gringolet, encountering wolves in the woods was probably no fun at all.

WODWOS CAUSING TROUBLE IN THE CRAGS

Ah, wodwos! Now here is a medieval word worth knowing.

A wodwo—or woodwo or woodwose—is a sort of Green Man figure. The Middle English word comes from the Old English wuduwasa, which one generally sees translated as "wild man of the woods." You can find the woodwo in various forms across Europe, associated with a variety of pre-and post-Christian supernatural entities and exotic creatures; I detect that later research (in the form of Wikipedia; thank you again, Wikipedia!) has linked the woodwo, perhaps wishfully, to everyone from Greco-Roman fauns to demons, gorillas, and the wizard Merlin. (Not to mention a slightly creepy, if etymologically plausible, appearance in the surname of P. G. Woodhouse.)

Woodwos have inspired, and infiltrated, European art since medieval times. They show up in on coins and coats-of-arms, in cathedral carvings, in etchings and engravings, and at the edges of illuminated manuscripts. In modern times, the word "wodwo"—and the creature it describes—was the inspiration for an important poem by British poet Ted Hughes, and the collection to which he gave its name; think of John Gardner's Grendel for an interesting point of comparison. More recently, fans of contemporary fantasist Neil Gaiman may know his poem "Going Wodwo," from the collection Fragile Things.

It is not entirely clear from the context of the poem what kinds of trouble woodwos might have been causing Gawain "in the crags." But surely we can all use our imaginations.

BULLS

Is Gawain fighting cattle? I admit that this one causes me some confusion. It seems to be generally agreed that at some point there were wild cattle of some kind in England, but when they died out is a matter of debate. (There's also a lot of argument about whether a surviving herd of white animals, penned in near Chillingham Castle in the thirteenth century, are the "authentic" descendants of the true wild English strain.)

Personally, when I read about Gawain fighting bulls here, I like to think of the aurochs—the titanic beasts that were the ancestors of modern domestic cattle. The aurochs, it seems, went extinct in the British Isles ages before Gawain would have ridden. But still, it's fun to think about! A seven-foot-high, two-thousand-pound bull? I can only call that hardcore.

BEARS

Brown bears, too, once roamed wild in England. Estimates of their extinction date range widely; while some suggest that wild bears had vanished before the Roman invasions (about 50 BC), others claim they were around almost up to the time of the Norman Invasion (about 1100 AD). Still others split the difference.

In any case, wild bears had almost certainly disappeared by the time of the fourteenth-century Gawain poet. Clearly, however, their memory lived on; and in any case, bears were regularly imported from the Continent for the purpose of bear-baiting up until the practice was banned in the nineteenth century.

I suppose I don't have to mention here that bears hardly ever attack human beings. But I also suppose I don't have to point out how scary they are to think about.

. . . AND THE ODD WILD BOAR

Like the wolves and the bears (and, possibly, the bulls), wild boars roamed Britain in the Middle Ages. But they too had become extinct by the early modern period. (They do seem to have been around, at least arguably, through the days of King James, which implies they might¬ have been in Gawain's forest.)

Although they loom large in the English imagination, I feel like wild boars are kind of vague, or maybe even invisible, in the American popular imaginary. Which makes sense—since they aren't native to the Americas—but still seems a pity. One tends to think of them in the same breath, as it were, as their pink domestic cousins. But this feels like an inadequate way to understand their symbolic significance, for the same reasons that you can't really understand the meaning of a wolf by thinking about a dog.

So here are some things that, until recently, I didn't know about wild boars: Wild boar, which continued to thrive in other parts of Europe and Asia after their extermination from England, can grow as large as wolves—up to six feet long, and three feet at the shoulder. English boars can weigh over three hundred pounds; the largest European specimens have weighed upward of six hundred. When threatened, a boar will defend itself with its teeth or, if male, with its tusks, which can in extreme cases reach up to a foot long.

All of which makes it rather clearer why boars (not domestic pigs!) feature so largely in the pre-Anglo-Saxon mythology of the Celtic peoples of Britain, as well as in that of the Norsemen who invaded and settled there. It also suggests why the English have continued to think about them long after they'd faded out. Boars show up in Shakespeare, and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene—the great pseudo-medieval symbolic work of the English sixteenth century—doesn't neglect to incorporate a monstrous boar of its own, as a symbol of gluttony and lust.

So what would all this have meant for our friend Gawain? Well, of course wild boars don't prey on humans. But they are fierce when threatened and they can have bad tempers. Presumably, while riding through the Wirral wilderness, a knight's best defense against wild boars would have been to avoid crossing its path in the first place. If Gawain did accidentally spook a boar, it doesn't seem like it would have been an enjoyable experience for anyone involved—not the man and not the boar, and probably not the horse, either.

(As a side note, wild boar have recently been reintroduced to England. And not exactly on purpose: so many specimens have escaped from boar farms—where they were being bred for their increasingly popular meat—that they have re-established breeding colonies in some forests. Now Britain is trying to decide whether, and how, to welcome them back. It's a curious story, and not without ironic overtones. And as for symbolism—well, let's not start.)

HARD ON HIS HEELS THROUGH THE HIGHLANDS . . . GIANTS!

"Etaynes," as the Gawain poet calls them, or "etens" or "ettins," as the word is more often seen, does indeed refer to giants—of a sort. The word is cognate to J—tunn, which is the name of the race of giants in Norse mythology, and it shows up in at least one well-known British folk tale ("The Red Ettin"), collected by the nineteenth-century folklorist Joseph Jacobs.

When I look up the word's chronology in a Dictionary of Early English, I find that the word "ettin" is rather wonderfully placed "from the 13th century, when giants were common." It adds, "Although it's in 1549, in the Complaynt of Scotlande, that we glimpse 'the taiyl of the reyde eythyn with the three heydis' [i.e., 'The Tale of the Red Ettin With the Three Heads']."

The Dictionary adds, further, that in the Jacobean Beaumont and Fletcher play The Knight of the Burning Pestle (performed in 1611—we have now reached the period of Shakespeare's lifetime), we find the following rather depressing remark: "They say the King of Portugal cannot sit at his meate but . . . the ettins will come and snatch it from him." Which seems not only doleful for the King of Portugal, but also something of a comedown for the ettins. I confess I imagine them, as they stalk Gawain across the high moors, to be threatening something rather more fatal than stealing his lunch.

When it comes to the contemporary world, however, it seems probable that the most common place to find ettins is in Dungeons & Dragons, where, I learn from the Internet, they have been a fixture in the Monster Manual since 1977. D&D's contemporary version of the ettin has two heads, which "disagree constantly, but will work together when there is a common threat," and comes in fire-souled, hooded pupil, spirit-talker and marauder varieties.

I suppose one might also view this as a comedown for the ettin. But there's also a good argument to be made that living on in D&D is as fine an immortality as any folkloric monster can hope for. Where else can such an archaic beast regularly terrorize today's mortals? Readers, if any of you are warriors of this kind, the next time you confront an ettin, I hope you will spare a thought for Gawain and his monstrous pursuers across the fells.

**

And that's where we will end for this fitt. With the monsters of the crags, I wave you adieu. Next time, in the third and final installment: miraculous castles, gory hunts, ladies' intimate attire, and medieval-style seduction . . . and, in the ominous Green Chapel, the final showdown between Gawain and the Green Knight. Stay tuned.

***

SELECTED REFERENCES:

Armitage, Simon. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.

On Wodwos:

Wikipedia. "Woodwose." (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

Hughes, Ted. "Wodwo."

BBC Edited Arts Entry. "'Wodwo'—the poem by Ted Hughes." Created 22 April 2003.

On Ettins:

Dictionary of Early English: Midcentury Reference Library. Joseph T. Shipley, ed. Philosophical Library: New York, 1955.

"The Red Ettin," as told by Joseph Jacobs. At www.surlalunefairytales.com.

On Wolves, Boars, Bears & Bulls:

BBC News. "Dealing with England's wild boars." 19 March 2008.

The Guardian: guardian.co.uk. "Wild boar." Created 7 June 2008.

The Independent: independent.co.uk. "Back from the dead: Could wolves and wild boar roam Britain again?" 10 April 2008.

McNamee, Thomas. The Grizzly Bear. p. 26. Globe Pequot: 1997.

Northumberland National Park. "Reintroducing Extinct Species."

Tooth and Claw: Living Alongside Britain's Predators. "Species."

Wolf Trust. "The Last British Wolves."




Susannah Mandel has lived for ten years in Boston, two years in France, and several months in Philadelphia. She hopes never to move back to the suburbs. Her favorite hobbies include stories, sunlight, looking at stuff, and going into detail. Please feel free to tell her interesting things.
No comments yet. Be the first!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
半透明の大江さんが洗面所から出てきて、いつもと同じようにテーブルに向かう。見えない食パンにバターを塗り、見えない新聞を片手に頰張る。まるでパントマイムだ。私はフローリングの床に座り込み、一連の動作を眺めた。
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Load More
%d bloggers like this: