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Semantic Social Games and the Game of Life in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Arrow-Odd’s Saga

Semantic Social Games and the Game of Life in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Arrow-Odd’s Saga

Taylor, Jefferey H.

Medieval Forum, vol. 6 (2007)

Abstract

The contrast in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight between Arthur’s court and Bertilak’s contains a critique of human perceptions but also affirms the importance of procreation. This tale and Arrow-Odd’s Saga contain magical garments substituting for immoral sex. Both also use the woodland deity motif, a symbol of fecundity which resonates well with late medieval perspectives. In both tales the experiential nature of life is emphasized over the semantic games of society’s rules. Hence they reflect the shift from scholastic realism to the nominalism and mysticism that underlay the flourishing of the arts in the late medieval period.

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