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Y Mabinogion: Diweddariad (Welsh Edition) (edition 1998)
by Dafydd Ifans (Editor)
The Mabinogion by Anonymous
No current Talk conversations about this book.
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.
I guess this was a good book to read for awhile while sick.
While I like the stories, this edition is the reason I'm giving this three stars. NO GLOSSARY? They had a brief how translate the words in the beginning, but I think it was needed at the end with all the characters mentioned. Got confusing and the Welsh names don't help.
What I liked best was this version's of Arthur. Not the best Arthurian book, but it was interesting he was already a hero and just a king at this point. He's not the main focus of the stories either. I would have some prior knowledge of earlier takes of Arthur before reading this book though.
If you can, I would find a better edition than Penguins if it out there. I usually like Penguins books, but this one lacks some stuff that would have been helpful.
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.
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Everyman's Library (97)
Penguin Classics (L322)
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Wikipedia in English (27)
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.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)891.6631Literature Literature of other languages Literature of east Indo-European and Celtic languages Celtic languages Welsh Welsh fiction –1600
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.