Translated, and read, by: Simon Armitage
ISBN: 057124064X / 9780571240647
I have a hard copy of Simon Armitage’s “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read it, so when the CD of the audio book fell into my hands, I was over the moon. I really enjoy listening to Simon Armitage’s voice and the idea of listening to him read his own translation of this poem, whilst commuting, was exciting. I have recently discovered the pleasures of listening to audio books when driving, especially along the highways, when you have time to actually absorb what is being read, so this audiobook fit the bill perfectly. I’m so glad I have it on my iPod now, so I can listen and re-listen.
The poem recounts the story of Sir Gawain, a knight in King Arthur’s court, who offers to take the sovereign’s place in a challenge set by a visitor to Camelot on New Year’s Eve. The stranger asks that a blow be struck against him with an axe and, in exchange, he will be allowed to do the same one year later to his challenger. It is a mediaeval tale of chivalry and virtues, with lavish descriptions and more than a hint at (pagan) magic.
Simon Armitage possesses a warm voice, that is soft without being soporific and somehow it gave the reading of this poem more atmosphere. The lilt in his voice added a slightly magical air to the words, especially when describing the rich costumes of the characters. I realise his accent may not appeal to all, but given he was raised in the area from where the original author was said to hail, it lends itself to the authenticity of the tale.
I highly recommend this audio version and I am more anxious than ever to read the book for myself. Now all I have to do is find the time.