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The Mabinogion

by Anonymous

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,884412,343 (3.87)101
Then they took the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and from those they conjured up the fairest and most beautiful maiden that anyone had ever seen.Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history -- these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as the Mabinogion. They tell of Gwydion the shape-shifter, who can create a woman out of flowers; of Math the magician whose feet must lie in the lap of a virgin; of hanging a pregnant mouse and hunting a magical boar. Dragons, witches, and giants live alongside kings and heroes, and quests of honour, revenge, and love are set against the backdrop of a country struggling to retain its independence.Sioned Davies' lively translation recreates the storytelling world of medieval Wales and re-invests the tales with the power of performance.… (more)
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» See also 101 mentions

English (38)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Probably my single most favorite collection of mythology ever, The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh legendary tales. They are gathered and written down from the bardic tradition of song so they prose may seem a bit off in places.

Read in college (06-07) ( )
  The_Literary_Jedi | Jun 11, 2021 |
I'm glad I read this, but I mostly didn't enjoy it very much. It was hard for me to retain specifics, in part because so many of the names were weird and in part because the stories' events often seem random, with cause/effect and time seeming sort of slippery. I did like some of the individual stories, and it was neat to read some of the Arthurian stories, but on the whole, I read these to get a flavor of some of the history of our literature more than for enjoyment. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
I love to read history and while these tales are not histories, they do give a perspective of what was of on the minds of early medieval readers. These are traditional Welch tales, some pre-Christian era, some related to the myths of Arthur. I found Davies translations very readable and the extensive notes were for the most part helpful in providing background and context.

The 11 stories in this collection are likely more than 1000 years old (perhaps some are much older but the written versions are in that range), and yet they are both similar to and different from modern stories. Similar in that sex and violence are common themes. Many of the fantastical elements form the basis for modern fantasy stories. Different in the way the stories are told and the expectation of what the reader will understand / accept as part of a good story. A couple of examples of that:

1. The mix of pagan, pre-Christian notions with references to the Christian God. God, for instance, in one story curses a king and his men by turning them into pigs.

2. In the "romances" in this collection, knights are constantly running about and killing people to win the hand of the "woman they love best", even to the point of killing other men to take their wives for themselves, and those wives scheming with them to do so. Perhaps an early form of "a code of chivalry" (and the medieval notion of love at first sight) when these tales were told, but certainly not a modern understanding of appropriate behavior between the sexes.

3. The understanding that children of the noble class were commonly given away to be reared by "foster parents".

I have not read the other translations that people mention in other reviews, but I enjoyed reading this enough to (at some point) seek out some of those translations. ( )
  stevrbee | Nov 7, 2020 |
The Mabinogion is a compilation of Welsh mythology and Arthurian stories from a variety of authors and a variety of time periods. This means that the stories have a different feel. The first half of the collection is a bit speedier, with shorter stories. The Arthurian stories are much longer in the telling and contain staggering lists of warriors and horses of varying colours. Davies’s explanatory notes are well worth reading—I bookmarked the back so that I could read a tale and then the associated explanatory notes. Davies explains translation choices to convey alliteration and rhythm, the connections between the various tales, and how the Arthurian ones intersect with other sources of these tales (e.g., Geoffrey of Monmouth, Chrétien de Troyes). It is not a light read, but worth checking out if you like Arthur and Wales. Next step for me will be hunting down a good audio, to hear the Welsh names pronounced properly and to get the rhythm of the story. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jun 14, 2020 |
1986 printing. 1977 printing ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionscalculated
Braby, DorotheaEngraversecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, SionedTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, SionedTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freeman, JoanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gantz, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gantz, JeffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guest, Lady CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, GwynTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, MaireadTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loth, JosephTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norris, LeslieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thomas, JeffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Updike, JohnForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Brothers transformed into animals of both sexes who bring forth children; dead men thrown into a cauldron who rise the next day; a woman created out of flowers, transformed into an owl for infidelity; a king turned into a wild boar for his sins - these are just some of the magical stories that together make up the Mabinogi.
INTRODUCTION (to the Jones/Jones translation)
-----------------------------
The eleven prose tales upon which the title 'Mabinogion' has been at once happily and arbitrarily bestowed are among the finest flowerings of the Celtic genius and, taken together, a masterpiece of our medieval European literature.
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Please do note combine  incomplete works, such as The Mabinogion (Phoenix 60p paperbacks), which contains only two tales.

There are two "Alan Lee" Mabinogions.
The original, which used the Everyman text, translated by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, was published by Dragon's Dream.
The second, which used Lady Charlotte Guest's translation, was published by Voyager/HarperCollins. See also LT entry for the Mabinogion by Lady Charlotte Guest.
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Then they took the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and from those they conjured up the fairest and most beautiful maiden that anyone had ever seen.Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history -- these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as the Mabinogion. They tell of Gwydion the shape-shifter, who can create a woman out of flowers; of Math the magician whose feet must lie in the lap of a virgin; of hanging a pregnant mouse and hunting a magical boar. Dragons, witches, and giants live alongside kings and heroes, and quests of honour, revenge, and love are set against the backdrop of a country struggling to retain its independence.Sioned Davies' lively translation recreates the storytelling world of medieval Wales and re-invests the tales with the power of performance.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Based on mss. known as The White Book of Rhydderch (ca. 1350) and The Red Book of Hergest (ca. 1382 - 1410)
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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