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Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy (1989)

by C.W. Sullivan III

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This study provides a fascinating look at the various ways in which 20th-century fantasy writers have used Welsh Celtic mythology and folklore in their work. Following the theories formulated by such scholars as John Vickery and Joseph Campbell, the use of Celtic materials by each of the authors is discussed from a mythology-in-literature perspective. Sullivan presents an extensive accounting of the Celtic material used and explores the primary ways in which the authors incorporate it into their fiction, both structurally and thematically.Sullivan identifies and analyzes the nature and extent of Welsh Celtic influence on subsequent cultures and their literatures, and he considers some of the previous attempts to evaluate this influence. The appendixes provide valuable background materials, including critical commentary on the Welsh collection of myths, legends, folktales, and beliefs that are of major importance in the work of the six authors represented. Also included are extensive bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. Illuminating reading for students and scholars of mythology, modern fantasy, and children's literature, this book sheds new light on the Welsh influence in literature and opens paths for further research.… (more)
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Read shortly after Donna R. White's excellent A Century of Welsh Myth in Children's Literature, C.W. Sullivan's work struck me as an expansion of that work, despite being published nine years earlier. This is owing, no doubt, to the fact that Sullivan examines the fantasy genre as a whole, while White confines herself to children's literature. However that may be, there is a great deal of overlap between the two, and each of them devote a significant amount of attention to Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, and Kenneth Morris. Sullivan also examines Evangeline Walton's Mabinogion series, as well as other adult contributions to the field.

Unlike White, who was primarily concerned with the adaptation of Welsh myth for a particular audience (that of children), Sullivan uses a more thematic approach in examining the topic. Particular emphasis is placed on the traditional Welsh cycle of tales, the Mabinogi, and the various ways in which it has been adapted to a new genre. One of many books I have read in my research into the connections between fantasy literature and traditional folklore, Welsh Celtic Myth in Modern Fantasy should be read in conjunction with White's work, mentioned above, and Kath Filmer-Davies' Fantasy Fiction & Welsh Myth. ( )
2 vote AbigailAdams26 | Jul 3, 2013 |
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More than a century ago, Matthew Arnold discovered that advocating something called Celtic Studies could lead one into very heated emotional and intellectual discussions.
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This study provides a fascinating look at the various ways in which 20th-century fantasy writers have used Welsh Celtic mythology and folklore in their work. Following the theories formulated by such scholars as John Vickery and Joseph Campbell, the use of Celtic materials by each of the authors is discussed from a mythology-in-literature perspective. Sullivan presents an extensive accounting of the Celtic material used and explores the primary ways in which the authors incorporate it into their fiction, both structurally and thematically.Sullivan identifies and analyzes the nature and extent of Welsh Celtic influence on subsequent cultures and their literatures, and he considers some of the previous attempts to evaluate this influence. The appendixes provide valuable background materials, including critical commentary on the Welsh collection of myths, legends, folktales, and beliefs that are of major importance in the work of the six authors represented. Also included are extensive bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. Illuminating reading for students and scholars of mythology, modern fantasy, and children's literature, this book sheds new light on the Welsh influence in literature and opens paths for further research.

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