May 17, 2010

The Mabinogion by Gwyn Jones

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the mabinogion gwyn jones
Not all Mabinogion's are created equal. This version has not only the four branches, but the Four Independent Tales, The Three Romances. Result? None are done as well as could be leaving much to be desired. Redemption, that it is in clear English and readable.

Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history--these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as the Mabinogion. Set in dual realms of the forests and valleys of Wales and the shadowy otherworld, the tales are filled by a dreamlike atmosphere. They tell of Gwydion the shape-shifter, who can create a woman out of flowers; of Math the magician whose feet must lie in the lap of a virgin; of hanging a pregnant mouse and hunting a magical boar. Dragons, witches, and giants live alongside kings and heroes, and quests of honor, revenge, and love are set against the backdrop of a country struggling to retain its independence. King Arthur's court provides the backdrop to tales such as "How Culhwch Won Olwen", in which a young man must complete many tasks before he can marry a giant's daughter. The work is divided into 11 disparate tales. Only the four of the first sections are explicitly "Branches of the Mabinogi," or stories of a youth. The youth is, according to a tradition followed by Gwyn Jones in her introduction, is Pryderi, the son of a Welsh King, Pwyll.

Paperback: 272 pages

Rating: 3 & a half Stars.
Review by Bill Tillman

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