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The Mabinogion (Everyman) Paperback – 7 Oct 1993
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From the Inside Flap
Preface by John Updike
The 11 stories of "The Mabinogion, first assembled on paper in the fourteenth century, reach far back into the earlier oral traditions of Welsh poetry.
Closely linked to the Arthurian legends--King Arthur himself is a character--they summon up a world of mystery and magic that is still evoked by the Welsh landscape they so vividly describe. Mingling fantasy with tales of chivalry, these stories not only prefigure the later medieval romances, but stand on their own as magnificent evocations of a golden age of Celtic civilization.
This translation of "The Mabinogion has, since its first appearance in 1949, been recognized as a classic in its own right. It was last revised by Gwyn Jones and his wife, Mair, in 1993. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones were, respectively, Professor of English at Aberystwyth and Cardiff and Professor of Welsh at Aberystwyth. They are the authors of numerous works of scholarship in Welsh and in English.John Updike, novelist, poet, and critic, is perhaps best known for his four Rabbit novels, published in Everyman's Library as Rabbit Angstrom. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Taking admittedly difficult and often corrupted manuscript text, they have succeeded in making a comprehensive and vibrant edition of all eleven tales, with copious notes which range to satisfy not only the scholar but the casual reader. A map and pronunciation guide complete the mix.
From the "Four Branches", those stories of gods and would-be-gods in the mists of the past, wooing and slaying, deceiving and conquering, are brilliantly and stirringly represented by the translators, and the full tragedy of Branwen's fate, or of Rhiannon's penance, the wretched savagery of Efnissien, the boldness of Bran and the guile of Gwydion are here given as much loftiness and power as in the original Welsh.
The four "native" tales, which feature Arthur to varying degrees of prominence, are dwarfed by the beast within their number, "Culhwch and Olwen", a rollicking sprawl of a broad comedy (with its moments of pathos), which is admirably executed by Jones and Jones, evenm if they occasionally lose sense of the author's dry humour.
The "Three Romances" are tales of derring-do by the warriors of Arthur's retinue, where jousting, magic and fair damsels are the aim of the day. Strikingly different to the "Four Branches", these tales are more patently 'medieval', and will appeal greatly to the admirers of Malory or Chretien, and of the Arthur stories which have inspired many a Round Table spinoff. Forget the imitators. These are the originals.
The translators' usage of the familiar sexond person pronoun "thee" and "thou", whilst meant to represent the equivalent in the Welsh, can become rather obstrusive: they are fine and elegant in the more dramatic passages, but get in the way in what should be the snappy, light-hearted dialogue. Also, whilst there is care taken at times to insert speakers' names when it is unclear, this is inconsistent, and the Welsh author's characteristic use of 'said he' rather than 'said X' should have been amended for ease of reading; more eye-friendly paragraphing would also not have gone amiss.
But these are minor quibbles in what is still the most attractive and powerful English translation of the Mabinogion. "He that leads shall be a bridge," spoke Bran the Blessed, and this edition is the modern reader's bridge to an under-read Medieval classic. Do read it.
This edition is infinately superior to the Charlotte Guest version Bowdlerised as it is for her victorian audiences and laced with mistranslations. Gantz's translation is good but loses something in it's attempt to update the language used.
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