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I m splitting the difference between my love of the medieval collection i.e Y Mabinogi and other Welsh tales and Lady Charlotte Guest s sometimes bowdlerized, romanticized, nineteenth century and I mean that in the worst possible way translation which would garner at best two stars, because I m feeling generous The real advantage of this book is if you re interested in the history of how the Mabinogion has been treated in the English language otherwise, you should decide if you want a a literal translation in that case, go with the Jones and Jones translation of the 1950s IIRC , offered by Everymanb a readable translation that also tries to give the flavor of the medieval original in that case, go with Sioned Davies translation from 2006.c a translation that focuses on the pre Christian mythology of the non Romance tales in that case, go with the Patrick Ford translation from the 1970s The advantage of Ford s translation is its inclusion of the earliest version of The Story of Taliesin the disadvantage is it doesn t include the Three Romances Peredur , Owain , and Gereint.d a translation that focuses on the environment of Wales the Bollard translation is great for this. The Mabinogion Welsh Pronunciation Mab N J N Is A Collection Of Prose Stories Collated From Medieval Welsh Manuscripts The Tales Draw On Pre Christian Celtic Mythology, International Folktale Motifs And Early Medieval Historical Traditions While Some Details May Hark Back To Older Iron Age Traditions, Each Of The Tales Is The Product Of A Developed Medieval Welsh Narrative Tradition, Both Oral And Written Lady Charlotte Guest In The Mid Th Century Was The First To Publish English Translations Of The Collection, Popularising The Name Mabinogion The Stories Appear In Either Or Both Of Two Medieval Welsh Manuscripts, The White Book Of Rhydderch Or Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch, Written C, And The Red Book Of Hergest Or Llyfr Coch Hergest, Written C , Tho Texts Or Fragments Of Some Of The Tales Have Been Preserved In Earlier Th Century And Later Mss Scholars Agree That The Tales Are Older Than The Existing Mss, But Disagree Over Just How Much Older The Different Texts Originated At Different Times Debate Has Focused On The Dating Of The Four Branches Of The Mabinogi Sir Ifor Williams Offered A Date Prior To , Based On Linguistic And Historical Arguments, While Later Saunders Lewis Set Forth A Number Of Arguments For A Date Between And Th Charles Edwards, In A Paper Published In , Discussed Both Viewpoints, And While Critical Of The Arguments Of Both Scholars, Noted That The Language Of The Stories Fits The Th Century More Recently, Patrick Sims Williams Argued For A Plausible Range Of About To , The Current Scholarly Consensus On the bank of the river he saw a tall tree from roots to crown one half was aflame and the other green with leaves Here is 11 Welsh stories with myth, folklore and history shining through In a way, they are escapist stories, but real history grounds them They were mostly written down from oral stories from storytelling bards around 13th century, and happen in the forest and valleys of Wales, and the shadowy otherworld connected to it Each story has its own introduction there is also a writing on the pronunciation of certain words, plus a map of Wales The title of the book was established only around 1849, but is actually quite suitable and short People with interest in Arthurian legends will find some familiar stories here, especially towards the end I didn t find it quite clear if they were influenced by the French collection of stories of Arthur, or the other way around Most of the stories have some patchwork in making each a story, but really they are easy to follow, though some inconsistencies exist In my own reading experience, only Peredur Son Of Evrawg was clangingly clearly taped together, and its ending wasn t quite smooth The stories have had newer stuff and values multilayered over the original, French appearing over Celtic, but some common themes still shine through Some characters, who appear briefly or in minor character might have had bigger roles and their own stories in the past Some historical people appear, sometimes under Welsh name versions.The stories vary in length There are some bizarre amusing etc elements that stand out, like a Loki like character, other dimensions of the same place just with no people, vanishing fortresses, people taking mice forms, guarding virginity by keeping your feet in the maiden s lap, two men as an animal couple and not just one kind of animal , a dragon in Oxford, people like a person whowere he buried seven fathoms in the earth he would hear an ant stirring from its bed in the morning fifty miles away donkeys from Greece, having a lion as a friend, a woman described in a way Snow White is usually described but in this case the cheeks have the red, not the lips and guaranteed luck in winning against other knights, and plenty of saving maids Sometimes the repetition in the story was a little boring, but I ve read worse The one story with a pages long list of companions accompanying one person was bizarre, but sometimes having amusing comments like that ant quote above.A strange experience, reading this book Requiring some patience, but the introduction was well done, and smoothed the experience, improving it and explaning pretty well A good reading experience with some through provoking, funny details. I m reading the Mabinogion after a childhood spent reading books that were based on these Welsh myths The Chronicles of Prydain, The Dark is Rising, The Owl Service I recall that those retellings recyclings were a bit user friendly, but what I love about mythology is the concentrated nature of it These are oral traditions boiled down to their essence the versions finally set to paper are meant to communicate what was really important to someone nearly 1000 years ago, from stories that are much, much older I don t know what amazes me that the stories seem as old as the hills, or that a good translator can easily make them comprehensible today, with some touches of the original wit and charm left intact. Supervisor wanted me to use a different translation to my old one the Everyman 1993 edition So I had to get this one It s supposed to be accurate I don t know about that, but it does seem a bit immediate and colourful than the old Everyman edition The little I know suggests it is a good translation, and it s certainly readable, and has a full complement of explanatory notes, introduction, etc, which is than I can say for the Everyman edition Slightly odd order of tales, not sure what she s organising them by certainly not date, as Culhwch and Olwen is almost the last.As for the tales, they are always a thing of unchanging delight, for me Especially nice to reread them after reading Seren s New Stories from the Mabinogion series. This is a group of 12 Welsh legends that feature King Arthur along with other kings They are stories passed down orally and have mnemonic devices imbedded in them to aide in the telling so they sometimes sound odd to our modern ears There is so much here that appears in current day literature There are magical creatures and wells and rocks and carpets, shape shifting, giants, fierce warriors, fair maidens, unbelievably delicious food, and chesslike games, etc everything that appears in modern day fairy stories and science fiction The knights are always handsome, unless they re the bad knights and then of course they re hideous, the women are each beautiful than the next Decisions made quickly often have far reaching implications There is a sense of immediacy Anyone could die at any time or make a life long alliance Magic, War, Love, that s what these stories are made of.I alternated between this new translation of Davies and Charlotte Guest s Victorian one and enjoyed both however Davies gives a wealth of background information that I found very helpful. This is an excellent translation of the Mabinogion Unlike Gantz, Davies uses familiar spellings of names, which I like unlike Jones and Jones, she divides dialogue up into paragraphs a conversation can be pretty confusing when it s printed as a single paragraph Above all, though, Davies translates for oral performance they re wonderful stories to read aloud Occasionally, when the action is getting intense, Davies will switch to the present tense, as the Welsh originals do It makes the narrative direct.The tales themselves are wonderful It s a blend of Welsh legend, mythology, and Arthurian romance.Welsh names can be hard to pronounce, but Davies provides an excellent pronunciation guide. I like mythological and I like medieval but this book is much than that There s a dreaminess to these tales I find so surprising, seductive, and mysterious They intoxicate me with dream and weird my imagination in wonderful ways.That said, it s a very uneven book The first four branches are really where the sauce is The tales that follow, mostly chivalric Arthurian adventures, can be dry though interesting for predating any round tables or swanky grails I ll make an exception for the tale of Cuhlwch whose mad crush on Olwen leads uncle Arthur into an epically misguided hunt for a divine boar, which, for some reason, has a comb and a razor and a pair of sheers all caught in the tuft of hair between its ears The hunt is such an ordeal it kills off nearly every last Briton which is a shame since the author went to such great lengths to name all of them phew But Cuhlwch gets the girl in the end, so alls well that ends well Anyway Here s a list of some of my favorite dream imagery from the book, mostly from the four branches You re hunting alone in the forest and encounter a stag being chased by brilliant white hounds with blood red ears Seeing no one around, you chase the hounds off and let your own dogs feed on the kill But out of the forest appears the king of the Otherworld who says the stag was his and claims offense The only way make amends, he says, will be to trade places with him for a year he will become you and you will become him On the mounting block at the entrance of the castle you meet a woman with beautiful long hair As you tie up your horse she tells you that to fulfill her punishment she must confess to you all her sins as she carries you up to the royal court on her back There emerges from the lake a giant, hideous looking man with a cauldron humped on his back After him emerges his wife who is twice as big and twice as hideous looking Someone once tried to kill them in a fire but failed The cauldron has a special power Leave your dead in it overnight and in the morning they will have returned to life but with one defect they will have lost the ability to speak The king is enormous Sometimes he s too big to fit in his hall, at other times he s so big he can wade right across the Irish Sea with his navy in his wake When mortally injured in battle, he tells his men to cut his head from his body and carry it back home This turns into a long, difficult quest where the men are seduced into magic castles and waste many years at a time in hypnotic trances But the whole time the head of their king remains alive and the best of company The only way the hero can be killed, he says, is if he s standing with one foot on the edge of the bath with his other foot on the back of a goat and someone chucks a spear at him When such a billygoat bathtub is eventually contrived and the spear strikes him, he dies by transforming into a decaying eagle and flying up into a tree Every time the eagle ruffles its feathers, rotting eagle meat falls to the ground To punish the two criminals for raping the virgin who cradled the king s feet in court, the king transformed them into deer, male and female, who were forced by their animal natures to mate with each other And so after a year they had a fawn, which the king made human and baptized And then the two were transformed into wild pigs, male and female, and they had a piglet who the king made human and baptized And the year after that they were transformed into wolves, m f, and had a cub, who the king made human and baptized And after three years of that the king transformed them back into their human selves and commanded them to go have a bath Often there are deafening noises that come roaring out of nowhere and seem to cue some intrusion from the Otherworld It s not uncommon after such a noise to find the landscape completely devoid of people or to suddenly find oneself standing in front of a vast army of horses and men with banners whipping in the wind Because of this story my spouse and I have begun calling any precarious, death inducing contraption a billygoat bathtub We invite you to begin using this expression. A wonderfully curious collection of old Welsh tales Not exactly literature, not exactly folktales, not exactly mythology Like folk tales and mythology it s the expression of a collective mindset, yet it s also the product of individual now anonymous authors elaborating upon or distilling long existent oral tales, than likely preserved across centuries by highly skilled bards The introduction refers to them as Wondertales, actually an official subset of Folktales Sounds wonderful to me This collection dates in manuscript from the 14th century, but speculation takes their origins back another 400 years or Suffice it to say that these are old stories, with beginnings shrouded in obscurity They also happen to contain some of the very earliest elaborations of the Arthurian legends.The style of storytelling is very different from our common present day style While the language and sentence construction is fairly basic, the narrative threads themselves are very compressed, with less emphasis on the slow rise and fall of dramatic tensions and simply abrupt happenings and endings In this regard I found similarities between it and many of the Old Testament tales It s as if much was left up to the reader or listener , room given for the play of the receivers imaginations, less pre digested if you will It took just a little while for me to get accustomed to this, and once I did I was gripped and transported to another time, another mindset a mindset shrouded in obscurity but definitely still vibrantly alive a mindset where journeys to and from the Otherworld, talking owls, and ferocious giants come as naturally as meat and drink and a maiden s pale thigh.There is much debate and speculation about who owns the rights to the Arthurian legends Much of what we know today about them, and HOW we know them, are due to Chretien de Troyes who was writing in the 12th century From him we got the courtly and refined Arthurian images expressed in a very literate way, orderly and well constructed But according to many scholars The Mabinogion predates his works and according to me and many scholars presents a set of stories much robust and rustic, somewhat sketchy and rough hewn, yet still somehow sophisticated, like a Wildman bedecked with emeralds, much Grimm than H C Andersen. Sixth book seventh text in the readathon It s been a long time since I read this in its entirety, if I ever did I picked it up since I seemed to be on a role with Arthurian stuff, and was surprised to find how many of the stories do have some Arthurian aspect I was under the impression it was only one or two.I like the Joneses translation, although the thou ing gets a little irritating and hard to read at times perhaps mostly once it s 8am and you haven t slept that night.Interesting that the three prose romances at the end are pretty much copies of Chr tien de Troyes romances Obviously, they re rather later than Culhwch and Olwen.I was always fond of The Dream of Macsen Wledig , for some reason, but now I am probably most fond of Culhwch and Olwen.