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The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion by Unknown
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Sample a moment of magic realism from the Red Book of Hergest:

On one side of the river he saw a flock of white sheep, and on the other a flock of black sheep. And whenever one of the white sheep bleated, one of the black sheep would cross over, and become white; and when one of the black sheep bleated, one of the white sheep would cross over, and become black.

Before passing on to the Mabinogion proper, Lady Charlotte Guest devotes Volume I of her compilation of medieval Welsh tales to three brief romances of Arthur’s Court. The centrepiece is the story of Peredur, the Dumb Youth – known elsewhere as Perceval, Parzifal, the Holy Fool, et al.

This is the violent world of satin-clad knights and their clashing encounters, peremptory slayings of giants and cave-dwelling monsters – a world where love is as sudden and final as death.

(Introduction by Martin Geeson)

First Page:

THE MABINOGION

TRANSLATED FROM THE RED BOOK OF HERGEST BY LADY CHARLOTTE GUEST VOL. I. LONDON T. FISHER UNWIN 11 PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS. MXCII

INTRODUCTION.

More than half a century ago Lady Charlotte Guest gave The Mabinogion to English readers in the form which, probably, will ever most delight them. Her transcript of the Red Book of Hergest was not perfect, she found the meaning of many a Welsh phrase obscure, but her rendering is generally very accurate; and the Celtic tales retain in their new dress much of the charm, which so often evades the translator, of a perfect style formed by generations of narrating.

The Red Book of Hergest, from which The Mabinogion are taken, is a collection of tales and poems written during the fourteenth century. Some of the Mabinogion in it have been reconstructed in Norman and Crusading times, but they contain reminiscences of a more distant period, often but half understood by the later story teller. Among these are "The Dream of Rhonabwy," "The Lady of the Fountain," and "Peredur the son of Evrawc" the three which happen to come first in the Red Book... Continue reading book >>


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