The Bruce (Canongate Classics) Paperback – 28 Feb 1997
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"... earliest biography of a Scot,...in a simple and clear modern translation and with enough notations to explain the background..." -- Books in Scotland, Autumn 1996
"Definitely a must for enthusiasts." -- Scotlands Quality Literary Magazine, September 10, 1997
"Its an excellent read for the connoisseur of Scottish history..." --Dumfries and Galloway Standard, November 13, 1996
From the Inside Flap
Barbours The Bruce tells the story of King Robert I, the Bruce, Scotlands great patriotic hero. In it the Wars of Independence, during which the Scots fought against the English for the right to be an independent nation, reach a climax. Years of conflict and fierce guerrilla warfare culminate in the great set battle of Bannockburn. The English army is routed and the English king, Edward, and his army are sent flying southwards to think again.
Robert the Bruce himself was famed for his courage, chivalry and humane treatment of those defeated. His military exploits are unmatched in Scottish history, but he was motivated not by personal ambition but by an inextinguishable love for freedom. He was accompanied in his great feats of arms by his faithful lieutenant, Sir James Douglas, the Black Douglas. Their friendship went beyond death. After the death of The Bruce, the Black Douglas carried his kings heart into battle against the Saracens.
Barbour wrote The Bruce during the second half of the fourteenth century, and it is one of the great achievements of Scots writing. The narrative, full of colourful personalities, carries the reader along from castle and court into the thick of battle. Ringing through it all is the theme of the importance of individual and national liberty. For too long this seminal work of Scottish literature has been available only to scholars able to read medieval Scots. This translation by Eyre-Todd into modern English prose (first published in 1907) fully captures the vigour and verve of the original. It is a vital book for everyone who cares about Scotland. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The original text appears in the book on the right hand page while the translation appears on the left page, meaning you can read the translation of each page first and then get stuck into the original, bit by bit. Otherwise, it would be too overwhelming and I must give that the thumbs-up. It is not easy reading the original and when you have finished the book, you do feel as if you have achieved something.
If you buy this, I can also recommend 'The Bruce' by Nigel Tranter, which is an historical novel about the life of King Robert. While many people look down at such things as being nonsense, it is clear that Tranter had studied a copy of John Barbour's epic. You may also want to buy 'The Wallace' by Blind Harry (the John Gilbertfield translation) which is basically the same idea as 'The Bruce', but about William Wallace.
Their tales is epic, and frankly, would make a better movie than Braveheart. I love Wallace, and never would discount his part in Scotland's history and struggle to remain a country separate from England. However, he was a shooting star that lit the fires of rebellion; the hard role of forging Wallace's dream into a reality fell upon the shoulders of twenty-something Bruce and his right hand Jamie Douglas. Their struggle was longer and harder, for not only did Bruce have to fight Longshanks - and later his son Edward II, to see Scotland free - he had to fight the mighty clan Comyn who control nearly 2/3s of Scotland.
The language of Barbour's epic, translations edited by A.A.M. Duncan, is easy to read, and lends such wealth into seeing Robert the Bruce and James Douglas as men, not just heroes. It gives such strong imagery and insight into the medieval period of Scotland. This first accessible modern edition of Barbour's work and must for any lover of Scottish History's bookshelf.
I have three copies of this translation. Why? The error pointed out repeatedly: in the year 2000, in 'Bannockburn Revealed', again in 'Bannockburn Proved' in 2005, again in 'The Genius of Bannockburn', 2012, and in 'The Genius Summary,' is still present in the revised edition of this translation in 2005. It is in BK XII lines 391-395:
'Tharfor thai herberyd thaim that nycht
Doune in the Kers, and gert all dycht
And made ready thar aparaill
Agayne the morne for the bataill,
And for in the Kers pulis war'
This, Duncan renders as: 'So they lodged there that night down in the Carse, and had everyone clean and make ready their equipment before morning, for the battle. And because there were STREAMS in the Carse.' p466.
It should be instead: 'And because there were POOLS in the Carse.'
It is not that its author does not understand the mistake. He is simply unwilling to admit it. Why? Because it is inexcusable: any able Scottish child can see the error; and because it matters! It has led to the loss of our Scottish heritage, the battle area, which has been built over, covered in housing schemes, because of it.
For centuries there has been a dispute about the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. So long as historians could not agree, the local Council felt free to build everywhere that suited them. Correct that single error and the site is obvious and immediate. For there is another ms, The Brut y Tywysogyon, Peniarth MS 20 version, translated by Prof Thomas Jones of the University of Wales in 1952, which tells us the battle was fought among pools of water. It is on page 123 of that book. (See it on p159 GB). The quotation dates from 1314.Read more ›
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