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The Mabinogion

by Mabinogion Author

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4,570462,561 (3.86)123
The 11 tales of the Mabinogion combine Celtic mythology and Arthurian romance. This new translation recreates the storytelling world of medieval Wales and re-invests the tales with the power of performance. - ;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… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Reading/listening to this book at one go is like eating too much cotton candy. As anyone who has read ancient literature can tell you, there are tropes within them that are the legacy of an oral tradition behind the tales. I find these tropes to be extremely tiresome when taken in large quantity over a short time. And in The Mabinogion, this is made even harder to get through due to Superlatives Overload. Every woman is "the fairest ever seen", every castle or suit of armor or your-noun-here is the best that ever was.
It probably does not help that I chose a very old translation. But the audiobook narrator is a native Welsh speaker, and I wanted his delivery of the many (many!) names within the book. He is the reason I give this 3 stars. Otherwise, it would languish with a 2-star rating. ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
A collection of eleven “stories” from early medieval Wales. Some long, some short, all showing their origins as oral tales. No matter your taste, it’s all here: witches, heroes, maidens, giants, kings, dragons, and an utterly extraordinary magical boar. There are quests and more quests: romance, honor, war, revenge, and, oh, love too. I found the tales a bit more uneven than I expected, but it is not surprising, I think, when you learn the "collection" is a modern accident. Brilliant translation (Sioned Davies) with extraordinarily detailed (often overdetailed) notes. ( )
  Gypsy_Boy | Aug 25, 2023 |
Something of a mixed bag.

The first branch of the Mabinogi is a masterpiece. It really is world-class literature. Knarled and ancient. The kind of world where you can can stroll into a clearing and find yourself in another land. The other three branches have great elements in them but they aren’t quite pulled together into proper stories. I did wonder if the author had suffered a stroke.

Some of the other stories (all of which are by different authors) suffer from the same problem. I wonder if what we’re looking at are some sort of aide memoir for storytellers and bards. They’re certainly not a pleasure to read in their current forms. But not all the stories are like that. It’s well worth reading because there are a couple of gems.

The other point of interest are five early Arthurian stories. Two of these seem to be entirely Welsh and the other three are adaptations of Chétien de Troyes’ romances Erec and Enid, Yvain and Perceval, though Perceval also seems to have quite a bit of Welsh material. It’s particularly interesting to read them back to back with their progenitors. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 23, 2022 |
The Penguin edition's introduction goes to enormous pains to tell me that the contents of the Mabinogian today probably do not reflect the original versions. They are only the oldest capturing we have of legends which were told orally for as many as several centuries prior. Further, we do not know exactly when this recording took place. Nor can we say for certain that it does not bear a heavy French influence which colors the lost originals. Nor is there much evidence that these stories held much influence over the development of Welsh culture. By the time I'd finished this detailed and inspiring intro, I almost reconsidered reading it at all.

Happily the Welsh legends of the Mabinogian have several memorable bits, loaded with mythological elements, curious reasoning and fantastic events. It has the usual conflicts and cruel acts of violence encountered in most peoples' mythologies, but there's also some humour laced into it that I thought was more unusual. The most fantastical elements are met by the characters with forthright aplomb. This seems like a characteristic of most people of legend but here it's perhaps especially worth noting. As the (otherwise unhelpful) introduction notes, it's a recurring theme to see the fantastical and the real intertwined, and to see a crossing between the two come as naturally as fording a stream. I find Greek and Norse mythology more engaging and this is not all casual reading, but enough of it is entertaining. ( )
2 vote Cecrow | Aug 17, 2021 |
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 |
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mabinogion Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Braby, DorotheaEngraversecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, SionedTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freeman, JoanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gantz, JeffreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gantz, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary 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
Mitchley, RichardNarratorsecondary 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.
The eleven stories known as the Mabinogion are among the finest flowerings of the Celtic genius and, taken together, a masterpiece of our medieval European literature.

Introduction (Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones, Everyman Library, ed.).
This translation of the Mabinogion into English appeared in Everyman's Library, with some revision of the original Golden Cockerel text and an expanded introduction, just twenty-five years ago.

Introduction (Gwyn Jones, Everyman Library, 1974 ed.).
Pwyll prince of Dyfed was lord over the seven cantrefs of Dyfed; and once upon a time he was at Arberth, a chief court of his, and it came into his head and heart to go a-hunting.

Pwyll prince of Dyfed (Everyman Library, 1975 ed.).
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Disambiguation notice
Please do not 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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The 11 tales of the Mabinogion combine Celtic mythology and Arthurian romance. This new translation recreates the storytelling world of medieval Wales and re-invests the tales with the power of performance. - ;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

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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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