Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

By Michael Smith

A new and handsomely illustrated translation of the Arthurian mediaeval masterpiece.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Cover design for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight!

It feels strange, after five years of work, seeing a book come to life which I first started to work on many moons ago while waiting for my son learning to play the accordion!

But now things are really starting to move forward - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is beginning to emerge as a tangible entity. A book. It is leaving its own Camelot. It is journeying into a new realm. Like Gawain himself, the book will now face its ultimate test as it crosses the realm of Logres to be judged by its own Green Knight: you, the reader. There is no going back.

Firstly, a couple of weeks ago I received the first "copy edit" of the manuscript for Sir Gawain. This is where a professional copy editor goes through my work to check it for sense, punctuation and to query intent. I must say, what an excellent job the copy editor at Unbound made both in terms of a rigorous focus and an in-depth knowledge; a real professional of the highest order.

On Monday, having been through all the revisions, I sent the revised document back to Unbound for the next step on its journey. I felt akin to Christopher Robin talking to Pooh on that poignant hillside bidding goodbye to a gentler life and ready now to face a different future. My translation, historical introduction, glossaries, notes, supplementary materials - they've flown away now to live a new life and grow into a book in the twiggy nest of Unbound's delightful aviary of literary creation.

Yet as it words fly out to lands unknown, a messenger now arrives to tell of its life journey: the first mock-up of the cover. A jacket, a vertiable jupon, bearing its heritage as a badge upon the field and plain.Now this bird has plumage grand to flap about in the summer that sues in wooded field and bank!

They've done a grand job. If you look carefully, you'll see in the background tints of some of the linocut images which will feature in the book. But the image itself - what inspired choice. Taken from the many linocuts which will illustrate the book, this is Gawain as he travels through the snow and ice and into the "wilderness of Wirral". I love the way the designer has tainted his shield with the corrosion of the Green Knight's magic. And look at Gringolet, the great horse, transfixed by the lure of Hautdesert! Wonderful!

And now, perhaps, a good omen is that today, November 2nd as I write, is the very day in the poem when Gawain sets off on his journey in search of his nemesis. While I too may weep, like those in Camelot, as the traveller must depart, I celebrate nonetheless as this child of mine now moves into strange and distant worlds to tell his story once again and, I hope, inspire others.

Soon, this fourteenth-century alliterative masterpiece will be in your hands; a mediaeval manuscript for the modern age. I do so hope you enjoy it when it comes.

Thank you for your help in making this journey possible.


Michael Smith 


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