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The Folk-Tale Element in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Folk-Tale Element in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

By Claude Luttrell

Studies in Philology, Vol.77:2 (1980)

Introduction: Ever since Kittredge published his fundamental study of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and its analogues in 1916, discussion of the models for this romance has been almost entirely conducted in terms of the beheading and the temptation themes, which he held to be the chief narrative components that have been brought together in it. Undoubtedly the Beheading Match originates in an Irish epic pattern that passed to Arthurian romances, but for the theme of temptation no such clear descent has been shown. We shall see that the resemblance of Sir Gawain to a particular folk-tale type illuminates this feature of the romance.

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