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The Mabinogion (Penguin Classics) by Jeffrey…
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The Mabinogion (Penguin Classics) (edition 1976)

by Jeffrey Gantz (Introduction)

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4,131432,389 (3.88)107
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)
Member:CodyWard
Title:The Mabinogion (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Jeffrey Gantz (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Classics (1976), Edition: Reprint, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

The Mabinogion by Anonymous

  1. 100
    Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton (LamontCranston)
  2. 41
    The Owl Service by Alan Garner (Michael.Rimmer)
  3. 10
    Porius by John Cowper Powys (chrisharpe)
  4. 00
    The Book of Dede Korkut by Anonymous (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: A culturally important piece of medieval lit. consisting of mythological/historical incidents involving warriors.
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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A collection of 11 medieval Welsh tales based on mythology, folklore, and heroic legends. The tales provide interesting examples of the transmission of Celtic, Norman, and French traditions in early romance. The name Mabinogion is derived from a scribal error and is an unjustified but convenient term for these anonymous tales.

The finest of the tales are the four related stories known as “The Four Branches of the Mabinogi” or “The Four Branches” (dating, in their present form, from the late 11th century), the only tales in which the word Mabinogi (possibly meaning “Matters Concerning [the Family of?] Maponos”) appears. Of great interest to Welsh studies are “The Four Independent Native Tales,” which show minimal Continental influence and include “Culhwch and Olwen,” “Lludd and Llefelys,” “The Dream of Macsen,” and “The Dream of Rhonabwy.” The tales “Owein” (or “The Lady of the Fountain”), “Geraint and Enid,” and “Peredur Son of Efrawg” parallel the French romances Yvain, Erec, and Perceval of Chrétien de Troyes. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Oct 22, 2021 |
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. ( )
1 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 |
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. ( )
  stevesbookstuff | Nov 7, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mabinogion PoetAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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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to my family
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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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Disambiguation notice
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.

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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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