Paperback  Ú Mabinogion  ePUB Ð
    Paperback Ú Mabinogion ePUB Ð of arms; anda portent and a miracle bothKing Arthur is here for the first time as a prime mover in a significant prose narrative 'Culhwch and Olwen', and thereafter as King and Emperor of what is still the world's most famous royal court."/>
  • Paperback
  • 291 pages
  • Mabinogion
  • Anonymous
  • English
  • 09 August 2019
  • 9780460150972

About the Author: Anonymous


Mabinogion ❰Read❯ ➵ Mabinogion Author Anonymous – Destiny, magic and chance, human strengths and weaknessesThe Mabinogion's stories are amongst the most compelling and beautiful in European literature

Composed in a golden age of Celtic story Destiny, magic and chance, human strengths and weaknessesThe Mabinogion's stories are amongst the most compelling and beautiful in European literatureComposed in a golden age of Celtic storytelling in the eleventh century or earlier, they bring together the grotesque and the warmly human, the entertaining and the richly significant Culhwch is here, perilously wooing the Giant's Daughter; Owain is here, winning the Lady of the Fountain by knightly feats of arms; anda portent and a miracle bothKing Arthur is here for the first time as a prime mover in a significant prose narrative 'Culhwch and Olwen', and thereafter as King and Emperor of what is still the world's most famous royal court.

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10 thoughts on “Mabinogion

  1. Mary Jones says:

    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 Everyman

    b.) 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.

  2. Jan-Maat says:

    The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh stories preserved in manuscripts from the fourteenth century, but it's assumed that the stories are older than that, they have been translated into English since the eighteenth century and this collection is in that tradition.

    The odd thing about collections like this is the need to drop any idea of an original version of the stories. Stories are told and changed, always in flux until they are caught between the pages of a book. Then a version is set in ink, the way that maybe one person told them in one place and at one time. For instance some of the stories have digressions giving spurious reasons for the names of places. It is easy to imagine a storyteller changing those as they went from place to place to set their heroes in the immediate local landscape.

    Some of the stories in this collection lead into, or are on the other fringes of, the Arthurian tradition, others have pagan echoes even while God and his mother are frequently evoked. Evocative and frequently strange.

  3. 7jane says:

    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 who
    were 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.

  4. Beth says:

    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 more 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 more: 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.

  5. Nicky says:

    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 more accurate -- I don't know about that, but it does seem a bit more 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 more 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.

  6. Cynthia says:

    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 more 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.

  7. Mark Adderley says:

    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 more 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.

  8. Nathanimal says:

    I like mythological and I like medieval but this book is much more 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.

  9. Eddie Watkins says:

    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, more 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 more. 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 more 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 more was left up to the reader (or listener), more 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 more 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 more robust and rustic, somewhat sketchy and rough-hewn, yet still somehow sophisticated, like a Wildman bedecked with emeralds, much more Grimm than H. C. Andersen.

  10. Mark says:

    The contents of this book are:
    The Mabinogion “proper” (its four branches, Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, and Math), The Dream of Macsen Wledig, Lludd and Llefelys, Culhwch and Olwen, The Dream of Rhonabwy, The Lady of the Fountain, Peredur, and Gereint, Son of Ervin.

    I used this collection of Welsh tales to gain key insight into connections with the English language by comparing the names of characters and locations to their English counterparts.
    Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed is the first tale collected here. I only took one King Arthur oriented class in college, and we didn’t have to read this one there. All the other instances of Arthurian literature I read on my own time.
    I don’t think many people majored in Arthurian studies or German or French to get a better grip on the story. No one has anything to say on them and mentioning one over the other is more than a game of favorites.
    This is the book that has Peredur, Son of Efrawg (Efrawg is York, and also Eouerwic, from the Old English Eoforwicceastre), which is the Welsh version of Perceval, the Grail Romance. There’s also Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, which fleshes out extra detail that the German bard added. Pwyll isn’t mentioned anywhere else in later Arthurian stories. His story is just a starting point for oral stories being written down for the beginnings of the literature tradition. There’s usually a difference between oral and written communication.
    Another related book is the Black Book of Carmarthen, which contains poems by Taliesin. As revealed through this text, the types of activities we’re familiar with today were familiar to our ancestors associated with English, but that’s beside the point. There isn’t much confusion about anything these days, but there used to be some misunderstanding over the French-German-English Arthurian standing. However, it’s just that the French Orlando chivalric romances were before the English Arthur adventures.