Phelan, Walter S.

Christmas Hero and Yuletide Tradition in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
1992 0-7734-9568-1
This intertextual study examines the motif of gift-giving or handsel, explores the Christmas Hero, and the rich culture of medieval crafts and entertainments, especially the drama and the carol. This neo-historical account of the energies of yule contains a diversity of contexts outside the Middle Ages, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Murder in the Cathedral. The book's innovative method involves semantic collation, a careful sifting through and alignment of the semes of two texts in a literary diptych, and concludes with a thesaurus of the vocabulary which follows the structure of the pentangle. Through the study of the concepts of Earth, Craft, Virtue, Christmas Joy, and Wound, the pentangle thesaurus brings some balance to the interpretation of the poem by correlating the elements of Creation and Incarnation. It concludes with speculations on the Gawain-poet's relationship to mysticism traditions, especially those indigenous to the North and Midlands in the late fourteenth century. With illustrations.