Although the Middle English poem known as 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' is assumed to be a kind of comic or satirical romance deriving from the Christian courts of England in the fourteenth century, several strange features suggest a different origin and generic categorization. Renaming it Sir Gawain and the Knight of the Green Chapel initiates the defamiliarization process. This book argues that the poet and his or her milieu belong to the small and confused converso community left behind after the Jewish expulsions at the end of the thirteenth century and still wondering who they were and what their place in society might be. Such a perspective may help explain why the goal of the young Sir Gawain is not only not green or even a chapel, but also why he arrives in the Castle of Hautdesert and undergoes a totally unexpected series of ordeals and tests.
Norman Simms is Senior Lecturer at Waikato University, New Zealand.
Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 From Judith to Grendel and Beyond the Pepuce: The Blood of Menstruation, Decapitation and Circumcision Chapter 4 The Ungreen Chapel and a Bargain which is Unbinding Chapter 5 From the Castle of Discourse to the Chapel of Repression Chapter 6 Crypto-Jewish and Converso Contexts: The Unbearable Darkness of Being Nothing Chapter 7 The Romance of Jewishness: Arthur, Order, and Oratia Chapter 8 Yep, Slime, and the Green Girdle Chapter 9 From Sanctification to Scarification of the Name: The Massacre of Innocence Chapter 10 From Gawain's Circumcision to his Circumspection: Why this Knight is Different from All Other Knights Chapter 11 Epilogue Chapter 12 Index