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The Bruce (Canongate Classics) Paperback – 28 Feb 1997

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Classics; Main edition (28 Feb. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862416817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862416812
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 5.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"... 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." -- Scotland’s Quality Literary Magazine, September 10, 1997

"It’s an excellent read for the connoisseur of Scottish history..." --Dumfries and Galloway Standard, November 13, 1996

From the Inside Flap

Barbour’s The Bruce tells the story of King Robert I, the Bruce, Scotland’s 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 king’s 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.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The first thing which strikes me about this translation of John Barbour's poem chronicling the life of Robert the Bruce, is the vast time and effort which must have gone into it over a period of years if not decades. There are plenty of historical notes which accompany the translation, meaning Professor Duncan has has done all the hard work, so the reader can sit back and enjoy the story of King Robert's fight to keep his crown and expel the English from Scotland.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Called "some of the most famous lines in Scottish Literature", they were written in 1386 by John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen. This was the Age of Chivalry - a time of knights and ladies, where bravery, valour and larger-than-life heroes came into flower. Above all, Loyalty was treasured, and none rivals the tale of loyalty between two men, who faced some of the hardest times in Scottish History and paid the price: Robert the Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and James Douglas. Even today James "Black" Douglas still thrills the imagination and heart of ladies fair!
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good reference book, adding much to the already-known facts to do with The Bruce.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
NB!!! The author is wrongly stated by Amazon! It should be John Barbour. Please change!

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.
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