Every book is written by a human who lived, worked, played and wrote in the context of his surroundings. Getting to know the landscape of his world brings his book to life. An old book only seems old if we forget the reality in which is was created. The author drank coffee when he woke up and maybe he walked his dog before he sat down to write the story before us. The author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is unknown to us, but we do know about the culture in which he lived, 1340-1400.
During his life he experienced the Hundred Years War and the Black Death. While he was alive the Wells Cathedral was under construction, Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, John Wycliff translated the Bible from Latin to English and the Great Schism was underway. Was Chaucer his friend? Did they compare notes or discuss plot and structure? I wonder if someone in his family or maybe his best friends died in the war or from the bubonic plague?
Take a few minutes to read up on the culture in which Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written.
1175 to 1490
Wells Cathedral has been described as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”
Enjoy this painting game called Paint the Cathedral
Ming Dynasty begins in China
Women Artists in the Middle Ages
What about you? Have you ever poked around the culture of an author before reading his book?