I want to get into the Arthurian legend, but how do I go about it?
I was planning on reading Le Morte Darthur by Malory, re-read Sir Gawain and the Greentexter and then Tennyson's Idylls of the King, but I'm sure there is a lot more material out there.
Are there any essentials that I should read aside from Malory and the Gawain poet?
Read the section from Geoffrey of Monmouth on Arthur, that's good and one of the earliest accounts if I remember right.
Chretien de Troyes is also essential Arthuriana.
There's a lot of other stuff out there too, but these plus the ones you've named are the most important.
Any particular editions for Geoffrey and Chetrien that you would recommend?
I was thinking of getting the Norton Critical Edition of Malory, but I don't know if the Oxford edition of his Complete Works is any better (the fat, red one).
For Geoffrey I don't think the edition matters too much, he has a very plain, direct style, and isn't making references or anything where notes would be too useful for. I read the Penguin and I'd recommend that.
For Chretien, there aren't many available. I have the Yale University Press edition translated by Burton Raffel, which I got mainly because I liked his work on Nibelungenlied. I know there's a Penguin edition, and that's probably fine too.
For Malory I read the Norton, which is a very good critical edition. It does some things like recreate the way the original manuscript printed certain characters names and other phrases were printed in a different font. This doesn't really add anything and can be a bit distracting. Really I think this or the big red are fine, the Norton just has the extra essays and things at the back. If you aren't comfortable reading middle English which can be a little awkward at times, the Oxford World Classics is in modernised spelling and is abridged, which isn't too much of a problem with Malory because he is very long and a lot of it isn't too interesting. The highlights are very good though.
The tl;dr version of this is that there aren't really that many different versions available, and the differences aren't that great so pick any that seems to have any edge for your personal tastes.
Thanks a lot for your reply.
I think I'll go with Penguin for Geoffrey and Chretien and Norton for Malory, mainly because of the price and because I like the publishers. I skimmed through the Norton edition and liked the way in which they recreate the manuscript's font, albeit it is a bit gimmicky.
Julius Evolas The Mystery of the Grail: Initiation and Magic in the Quest for the Spirit is a good companion book to go with le morte d'arthur, as it explains the esoteric meaning of it's symbolism and it's allegorical content