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Destiny, Magic And Chance, Human Strengths And Weaknesses The Mabinogion S Stories Are Amongst The Most Compelling And Beautiful In European LiteratureComposed In A Golden Age Of Celtic Story Telling 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 And A Portent And A Miracle Both King 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 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. 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. 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. 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.