translation studies, descriptive translation studies, Middle English, 14th century poetry, fantasy, genre, Tolkien


A comparison of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, published posthumously in 1975, and Simon Armitage’s 2007 translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight reveals that a translator’s choices can affect the genre of a work. Tolkien’s foreignizing translation situates Sir Gawain in the tradition of medievalist fantasy and should be read in the context of twentieth century fantasy, the same genre as Tolkien’s original works. Armitage’s domesticating translation places Sir Gawain in the context of twenty-first century fantasy. An examination of the subgenres represented in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (ghost story, thriller, and morality tale) also shows how translation can shift the genre and meaning of a work. This paper describes and compares the strategies of these translators and the differences between the final products.

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