The Choice between Common Courtesy and Virtue as seen through Sir Gawain (theme)

Originally posted on CLA Portfolio:

In JRR Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the introduction to Sir Gawain contains some interesting thoughts. This introduction is taken from a radio broadcast Tolkien did in 1953. At one point  on the topic of Gawain, Tolkien says, “We see him at the crisis of action forced to distinguish in a scale of value the elements of his code, preserving his chastity, and his loyalty on the highest plane to his host; finally rejecting in fact (if not in empty words) absolute worldly ‘courtesy,’ that is, complete obedience to the will of the sovereign lady, rejecting it in favor of virtue.” In Tolkien’s mind, Gawain, a very flesh and blood character with very human weaknesses, shows the battle between being courteous versus being virtuous. And what is virtuous about Gawain? “The noblest knight of the highest order of Chivalry refuses adultery, places hatred of sin in the…

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Rest or stay busy, busy, busy? (quote)

“The whole of life goes on like this. We seek repose by battling against difficulties, and once they are overcome, repose becomes unbearable because of the boredom it engenders.”

“From these two opposite instincts arises a confused plan…”

–Pascal (Pensees, 168)

Perhaps it should be both rest and resourcefulness…

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Book Review (analysis and synthesis): Those Terrible Middle Ages! by Regine Pernoud

Originally posted on CLA Portfolio:

Author: Regine Pernoud. A French woman who lived from 1909 to 1998. She was a Doctor of Literature, Archivist, Medievalist, Historian, Curator, and Writer.

Year Published: 1977, original in French

Reading Level: High-School. Students might need to prepare for the rhetorical use of sarcasm in non-fiction literature. In my opinion, Pernoud uses a tone of sarcasm to convey her incredulity about the misunderstandings that people have about the Middle Ages, especially since she lived in France with other Frenchmen who can’t help but walk amongst the relics of that time. Students should also be given some background knowledge on the use of categories. For instance, Pernoud’s use of the term “High Middle Ages” is different from what other educators conceive as the “High Middle Ages.”

Morality Level: This is a non-fiction work. Since this is a book on history, the inquiry by the students should be on the level of…

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Knowing your worth (quote)

Let us know our own worth. Let us have self-esteem because we have within ourselves a nature capable of good, but let us not at the same time cherish the vileness of which we are capable.

–Pascal (Pensees 151)

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