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The Tain: Translated from the Irish Epic…
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The Tain: Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge (edition 2002)

by Thomas Kinsella

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1,439197,759 (4.12)33
Member:cmjeffrey
Title:The Tain: Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge
Authors:Thomas Kinsella
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2002), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Irish History, Irish epic

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The Táin by Tain Author

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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Queen Medb and King Ailill squabble about who is the most amazing and there's a war about a cow. Just when I think the genealogies and place naming is all a bit much, something loopy happens and it's enjoyable again. The hero of the story is Cuchulainn. He's a baby faced berserker hybrid of Rostam and Heracles, who likes to do battle party tricks. The descriptions of his strength and battle prowess are exaggerated to comical levels of wonder. I love the search for a fake beard, the preoccupation with rich clothing and the point where Cuchulainn has killed so many men the bard gives up using different names and starts grouping the dead by name: 'seven named Conall, seven named Aengus, seven named Uargus . . . '

While there's much to enjoy, I have mixed feelings about the story. I weary of the repetition - the same battle sequence over and over, with Cuchulainn killing someone at a place then named after the dead man. It's silly to say an epic tale is repetitive, because that's what traditional oral tales are like, but it's not engaging me in this particular story. I'm not sure why, but I do know there is more to this story than I'm willing to consider. My copy is translated by Thomas Kinsella and has some of Louis le Brocquy's illustrations. I can see other reviews here praise Ciaran Carson's translation for its liveliness, so another time I'd like to read it and see. I'm glad I read this version so I could experience Le Brocquy's illustrations, but perhaps the translation or my current mood are doing this tale an injustice.
  Pencils | Jun 10, 2016 |
This should replace Beowulf on all syllabi immediately. It's funny and violent and completely bonkers. And it features a queen that likes to sweeten deals by offering "the friendship of her own thighs." What's not to love? Okay, the lists of warriors Cú Chulainn kills do get old after the first 100 or so deaths, but they can be skimmed over without losing any of the mad wonderfulness of this epic. ( )
  amanda4242 | Jan 10, 2016 |
Ciarán Carson presents an accessible and highly readable translation of The Táin for a new generation of readers.

The Táin is part of the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology and along with other similar works forms a distinct genre known as Táin Bó, or Cattle Raid.

In Táin Bó Cúailnge, Medb the Queen of Connacht goes to war against Ulster for the sake of Brown Bull of Cúailnge. Opposing her is the mighty hero Cú Chulainn who alone stands against the assembled armies of all Ireland. Cú Chulainn then singlehandedly goes about killing all the heroes and soldiers Medb sends against him in feats of supernatural martial skill. Eventually, the rest of the Ulster armies arise from the periodic curse that afflicts them and is victorious over Medb's armies. She however is able to take back the prize Ulster bull but it kills the prize bull of Connacht and escapes.

This is one of the defining stories in Irish literature and Carson has ably translated the prose text; the smaller sections of Irish verse are much more cryptic and do not lend themselves to a fluid translation. Also, the traditional tána literature include a number of remscéla, or preludes, that Carson has either not included or reduced to endnotes.

The list of heroes Cú Chulainn kills fighting against Connacht and the list of place names named thereafter does get repetitive yet the lively and engaging spirit of Ireland's own Iliad is never lost. This is truly a classic of world literature. ( )
1 vote xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
I don't know Gaelic, so I don't know how true this statement is, but this book felt to me like reading the Tain in the closest to the original that I could get without learning its language. The grammar doesn't feel particularly English, and the wild images and events of the story are not softened for an English-speaking audience (as happens in Lady Gregory's retelling, for example). I strongly recommend the book for those interested in the Tain yet ignorant of classical Gaelic; but for those who don't know the Ulster Cycle, Lady Gregory's retelling (/Cuchulain of Murthemney/) or the Dover Books reprint /Myths and Legends of the Celts/ (T.W. Rolleston) might be a better starting point. ( )
  ex_ottoyuhr | May 7, 2014 |
I haven't read much Irish mythology at all, so it was high time I got round to reading The Táin. It's an epic based around the feats of Cù Chulainn, as he defends the land of Ulster from the armies of Ailell and Medb. It's (here's one of my favourite words again) hyperbolic and, well, it's an epic, what do you expect? There's verse and one-on-one combats and ridiculous feats of arms involving throwing spears through boulders and so on.

I was actually surprised by how little I knew about The Tain. I'm sure I've read plenty about Cù Chulainn, but knew very little about what goes on in the Cattle Raid.

The translation seems clear and is very easy to read, though I can't comment on accuracy. The introduction is helpful, and the notes are comprehensive and informative. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tain Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brocquy, Louis leIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carson, CiaranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cataldi, MelitaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dunn, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guyonvarc'h, Christian-J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haley, GeneTopographical researchsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hutton, Mary A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kinsella, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of the storyteller John Campbell of Mullaghbawm, Co. Armagh, born 1933, died 2006.
First words
One night when the royal bed had been prepared for Ailill and Medb in Crúachan Fort in Connacht, they engaged in pillow talk
Quotations
If the salmon were swimming in the rivers or river-mouths I'd give you one and share another. If a flock of wild birds were to alight on the plain I'd give you one and share another; with a handful of cress or sea-herb and a handful of marshwort; and a drink out of the sand; and myself in your place in the ford of battle, watching while you slept.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192803735, Paperback)

The Táin Bó Cuailnge, center-piece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's greatest epic. Thomas Kinsella's lively translation is based on the partial texts in two medieval manuscripts, with elements from other versions. This edition includes a group of related stories which prepare for the action of the Táin along with brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A new translation of the eighth-century Irish epic, Tn B ?Ca?ilnge, is a sprawling mythic tale of the legendary warrior, Cu Chl?ainn, and his battle against the invading army of Connacht over the fabled Brown Bull of Cooley.

(summary from another edition)

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