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The Mabinogi, and other medieval Welsh tales…

The Mabinogi, and other medieval Welsh tales (original 1977; edition 1977)

by Patrick K. Ford

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407738,554 (4.11)9
Title:The Mabinogi, and other medieval Welsh tales
Authors:Patrick K. Ford
Info:Berkeley : University of California Press, 1977.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Medieval Welsh Literature

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The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales by Patrick K. Ford (1977)


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This second reading was significantly easier than the first, if only because I knew what to expect and to brace myself for the tedious list of How Culhwch Won Olwen. The bits of Taliesin included in this copy that weren't included in the [a: Sioned Davies|187332|Sioned Davies|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] translation were also a distinct treat, though Davies included in hers some other material that [a: Patrick K. Ford|295814|Patrick K. Ford|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] omitted. To each their own with this strange tradition.

For a first time reader I would recommend Davies, as she provides a more thorough grounding within the Welsh tradition. Her footnotes fill in the blanks that allow subsequent translations to better describe why what was being said was said and a more thorough analysis of the stories. Honestly, I'm excited to read more translations of it, now that I've two under my belt and can actually form preferences in regards to them. I'm a bit curious as to the bowdlerized one as well, though I'm uncertain when I'll try and if it will ultimately be disappointing... Though I understand it is a better reflection of the Victorian Romantic sensibility than it is of the prehistoric Welsh and Arthurian Tradition.
( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
The Mabinogi are four linked medieval Welsh tales; Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, Branwen daughter of Llyr, Manawydan son of Llyr, and Math son of Mathonwy. Other tales are included in this volume, which represents the core of Welsh mythology. Each story is prefaced with a plain-English summary, then the story is presented as originaly written (the editor, Patrick K. Ford, did the translating). There is a handy glossary of names, a pronunciation guide, and an index of names at the back of the book.
These tales are full of magic, humor, and pathos. It is a great introduction to Welsh mythology. I liked this translation better than the Jeffrey Gantz one.
Some of the repetitiveness in Culhwch and Olwen irked me, because it started out funny but then dragged on. I’m not one to read poetry, so much of the Gwion Bach and Taliesin story wasn’t interesting to me, but those are the book’s only drawbacks in my opinion.
Overall, the book is worth reading just for the Mabinogi. All four of those stories were great. I especially enjoyed Manawydan son of Llyr. I won’t spoil the story, but I found it extremely funny when different people came by and tried to talk Manawydan out of hanging a mouse (for thievery) by stringing it up between two forks stuck in the ground!
( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
I loved the first branch of the Mabinogi, but after that my interest level began to fall off. ( )
  owen1218 | Jan 13, 2011 |
From "Culhwch and Olwen"

How Culhwch got his name, which means swine or pig:
"Cilydd son of Celyddon Wledig desired a woman as well-born as himself. The woman he wanted was Goleuddydd daughter of Anlawdd Wledig. After his wedding feast with her, the country went to prayer to see whether they would have an heir. And through the country's prayers, they got a son. From the time she became pregnant she went mad and avoided civilized places. When her time came her senses returned to her. Where they did so was in a place where a swineherd was watching a herd of pigs, and the queen gave birth from fright of the swine. The swineherd took the boy and brought him to court. They baptized him and named him Culhwch, because he was found in a pig run. The boy was noble, however, and a cousin to [King] Arthur." pg. 121

Olwen, the giant's daughter:
"She came in wearing a flaming-red silk robe with a reddish-gold torque studded with precious stones and red gems about her neck. Her hair was yellower than the flowers of the broom; her skin whiter than the foam of a wave, her palms and fingers whiter than the blooms of the marsh trefoil amidst the sands of a gushing spring. Neither the eye of a mewed hawk nor the eye of a thrice-mewed falcon was brighter than her own. Her breasts were whiter than a swan's; her cheeks redder than fox-glove: whoever saw her was filled with love of her. Four white clovers would spring up in her track wherever she went. Because of that she was called Olwen (White-track)." pg. 135
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  Mary_Overton | Jan 2, 2011 |
This book is a collection of the four branches of the Mabinogi and a handful of other assorted Welsh stories that make up the Welsh mythic cycle. This version of the collection is missing stories that show up in other 'Mabinogion' collections, such as 'The Dream of Maxen' and 'The Countess of the Fountain', stories that are connected to the Arthurian legends. It does, however, include the 'Tale of Gwion Bach and Tale of Taliesin' often omitted in other translations.

There are certainly many other compilations of the Welsh tales, usually under the title of 'Mabinogion'. I have several variations myself and in each one the tales vary just a bit. I would not recommend this book over others, but certainly in tandem with one or two of the others. Any and all of these versions are useful in that they contain that core part of Welsh mythology. Of all the Celtic subcultures, precious little seems to have survived of Welsh myth and if one wishes to work within the Welsh pantheon, these stories are invaluable.

I would certainly recommend this book to others. I found it to be easy to read, even at its most technical parts such as the Introduction and the prefaces to the stories themselves. I've come across other versions were these 'technical' parts are very wordy and difficult to process. It was a very enjoyable read. It's a shame that the mythology of the Welsh and the Celtic peoples in general tend to get ignored in the literature we teach our young today. Or at least that was the case when I was going through school. Every year, without fail, we would make a big deal over Greek and Roman myths and, it seems, overlook the fact that there are other cultures with rich mythologies out there. I would definitely recommend this particular version to any teacher seeking to broaden their students' horizons. ( )
2 vote PardaMustang | Mar 24, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520034147, Paperback)

The title Mabinogi refers to the first four stories in this collection of tales from Welsh tradition. They are best known as the "Four Branches of the Mabinogi," and comprise the tales of Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, and Math. The remaining stories also spring from the same tree, and together they form a collection that comprises the core of the ancient Welsh mythological cycle. They are also among the best the medieval Celtic literature has to offer.
In the first thoroughly revised edition and translation of this world classic since Lady Charlotte Guest's famous Mabinogion went out of print, Mr. Ford has endeavored to present a scholarly document in readable, modern English. Basing his criteria on the latest scholarship in myth, he includes only those stories that have remained unadulterated by the influence of the French Arthurian romances. These are, in addition to the "Four Branches," the tale of "Kulhwch and Olwen," which is rooted in the mythological origins of Arthur, seen here in his role of divine hunter in pursuit of the swine-god; "Lludd and Lleuelis," which reaches beyond its immediate Celtic sources into ancient Indo-European ideologies; and the long unavailable "Tale of Taliesin," which offers insights into Celtic concepts of the archetypal poet-seer and the acquisition of Divine Wisdom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:18 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Tales about Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, Math, Lludd and Lleuelys, and Culhwch and Olwen, comprising the core of the ancient Welsh mythological cycle, are presented in readable, modern English translations.

(summary from another edition)

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