Favourite Texts I've Studied So Far! - From an English Literature Student

By Mi Chelle Cheah

Since starting my degree, I've studied a range of texts, from novels to graphic novels. I thought I would prefer modern texts, but funnily enough I've ended up gravitating mostly towards medieval literature! Here's some of the texts I've loved so far: 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

An Arthurian poem about Gawain as he goes against the mysterious Green Knight. I read the Keith Harrison and Seamus Heaney translations of the poem. The verse is beautifully vivid and you get a sense of wonder with the way Gawain's quest is described. I'm excited for the upcoming film adaptation starring Dev Patel!

Beowulf and Grettir's Saga

Grouping these together as they're both about monster-slaying heroes. If you're interested in medieval monsters and heroes, these are the texts for you. Beowulf is about him killing three monsters (one of which is a gold-hoarding dragon, an inspiration for the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit!). Grettir's Saga is morally-grey, about an outlaw who commits heroic deeds but also horrendous acts. The atmosphere is much different from Beowulf, as it sometimes feels like a horror story (it features one of the most well-known 'zombies' in Norse myth and literature) and sometimes it can even be humorous. 

The Lais of Marie de France

Lais are short tales of romance and chivalry, often involving the supernatural. This is a collection of lais and they read like fairy tales, and involve creatures like the werewolf and shapeshifters. It's a fun and quick read! 

Henry IV Part 1 

This Shakespeare play centers around Prince Hal and his relationship with Falstaff and his own father. Despite being heir to the throne, Hal hangs around in slums and taverns. This play is full of insults and jokes, and there's an adaptation starring Tom Hiddleston as well if anyone's interested!