Elisabeth Salter
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Fictional literature
Gawain in a Middle English miscellany
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This chapter examines the nature of some popular fictional literature with the intention of understanding more about reading experience. It provides the set of surviving stories centred on one of the knights of King Arthur's round table: Gawain. The chapter describes the Gawain stories and assesses some general points concerning the various versions, their similarities and differences. It considers the matter of their popularity, and some important issues about the relationships between a popular story and its form, with specific reference to ideas of orality and literacy. The chapter presents a manuscript case study which addresses specific issues of how the evidence for reading practice and experience may be elucidated for one version of the story. The manuscript case study is based on The Carle of Carlisle which is found in a Middle English miscellany housed in the National Library of Wales.

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