Manuscript: Four surviving manuscripts, all varying. Circa 1450
This is, in my opinion, the most nuanced and perplexing tale of the Gawain cycle. It survives in four complete versions, which may all claim a common analogue. The dialect is clearly traceable to the West to Northwest midlands, the same area in which Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was produced. Its rhyme scheme is ababababcddc, with the terminating four lines of every stanza reminiscent of SGGK’s bob and wheel scheme. The lines are extremely alliterative, more so than any other surviving Middle English romance. The relatively short 715 lines relate two distinct plotlines—the first, the arrival of the ghost of ‘Gaynour’s’ (Guinevere’s) mother. She brings with her warnings about the behavior of Arthur’s court, saying “Have pite on the poer—thou art of power” (173). Her admonishments about charity and the deficiency of both Guinevere and Arthur’s court affect the second plotline, shaping both Gawain and Guinevere’s actions in the subsequent section.
Manuscript: Several. Circa 1550
Manuscript: Percy Folio, circa 1650