Book of the Month – August 2019

 Pearl by Simon Armitage

Pearl by Simon Armitage

In 2009, Simon Armitage released his translation of the Medieval English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It garnered front-page reviews across two continents and confirmed his reputation as a leading translator.

Pearl followed in 2016, an entrancing allegorical tale of grief and lost love. Believed to be authored by the same poet as Gawain, it sees the narrator led on a Dantean journey through sorrow to redemption by his vanished beloved, Pearl. Retaining all the alliterative music of the original, Armitage brings Pearl to vivid and intricate life.

"There is something about the very strangeness of the poem that magnifies its emotional power. When we look at a Byzantine mosaic, for instance, we may not grasp the precise meaning of its images without scholarly help – but that remoteness lends such artworks the marvellousness of something just beyond our understanding. In his new translation of “Pearl”, Simon Armitage, who is currently the Oxford Professor of Poetry, conveys that feeling of the almost-but-not-quite comprehensible, the feeling that can make medieval art at once eerie and wonderful" – The New Yorker

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Buy the book

Listen to Simon Armitage speaking about Pearl at Hay Festival 2016

Simon Armitage

Further reading...

Pearl by Simon Armitage, Faber & Faber (2016)

The Strange Power of a Medieval Poem, The New Yorker (2016)

"I always thought, if Ted Hughes can do it why can’t I?", Observer (2019)

About the author

Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds. A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, he has published twelve collections of poetry, including Seeing Stars (2010), The Unaccompanied (2017), Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic (2019) and his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007). He writes extensively for television and radio, and is the author of two novels and the non-fiction bestsellers All Points North (1998), Walking Home (2012) and Walking Away (2015). His theatre works include The Last Days of Troy, performed at Shakespeare's Globe in 2014. In 2015 he was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and in 2018 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Simon Armitage is Poet Laureate.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we've loved and think holds added resonance today. While many recommendations celebrate the new, this is a chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old – that reaches through time to touch the present.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HayBookoftheMonth and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

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Happy reading!