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The Mabinogian

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  4,451 ratings  ·  228 reviews
The stories of the Mabinogion appear in two Medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written about 1350, and the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) written about 1382. Although fragments of these tales have been preserved in earlier thirteenth-century manuscripts, scholars agree that the tales are much older. The tales have had a ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Waking Lion Press (first published 1200)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mary Jones
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.)
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Beth
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 ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Feb 04, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mythology
The Mabinogi are four linked medieval Welsh tales; Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, Branwen daughter of Llyr, Manawydan son of Llyr, and Math son of Mathonwy. Other tales are included in this volume, which represents the core of Welsh mythology. Each story is prefaced with a plain-English summary, then the story is presented as originaly written (the editor, Patrick K. Ford, did the translating). There is a handy glossary of names, a pronunciation guide, and an index of names at the back of the book.
The
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Nikki
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, n ...more
Cynthia
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 moder ...more
Kaila
Some messed up shit in here. Pretty rad. For example: a virgin is raped by two brothers. For punishment, the king turns one of them into a sow, the other into a boar, and takes the fruit of their union. Then he turns them into a she-wolf and a wolf, and takes the fruit of that union, too. He says, Well now you've both born a child of the other, so that's enough punishment.

The king does right by the girl and marries her.
Jan-Maat
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 thei ...more
Emily
The Mabinogion is a collection of ancient Welsh folk stories, and Lady Charlotte Guest did a brilliant job bringing them into English. She not only made them read like stories and not dry translations, but she added a ton of her own notes and research, like about places in Wales that were still connected with these traditional stories into the nineteenth century when she did her work. (I read this in hard copy, not on Kindle, but I couldn't find the edition I read.)
Basicallyrun
I love the stripped-down style of the original tales (well. Apart from the, what, five pages of all the knights that were at Arthur's court that day in one of the tales. I imagine that sounded lovely and lyrical when it was being performed aloud, but in written form it does drag a little) and I think Jeffrey Gantz has done a brilliant job in capturing a slightly archaic, but still perfectly readable cadence here. I also like the way names are left untranslated in the text, but are usually footno ...more
Laura
First off, this is infinitely more entertaining after just having finished Tears to Tiara, on account of that Celtic mythology translates to anime *so well* that it is actually makes more sense in the context of the show than in literature. I mean, this is perfectly normal behavior for any self-respecting Celtic hero. Totally. Tame for a warp spasm!

Also, you can shout ARAAAWWWNNN every time he shows up. Because why not?



The Chretien/Mabinogion Arthuriana stories are so hilariously broship it's ri
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Jeffrey
How does a person even presume to review a book that has survived 700 years, containing stories that survived close to their current form without anyone writing them down for a further 300 years?

I originally picked up the book because Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain is based on Welsh myth, Mabinogion is _the_ collection of Welsh myth, and is even acknowledged by the author as one of his sources. Who would want to read some of the proto-stories that gave us the Black Cauldron, and Arwan
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Nikki
(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 tha
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Phillip
This is a really interesting set of iron age myths, partially because they clearly demonstrate the influence of other traditions, especially Christianity. Much of the narrative style seems to borrow from Biblical narrative styles, and the heroes have been demoted from gods to heroes. However, these stories do retain a lot of the magical elements from the earlier deity myths.

I think it might be difficult for many modern readers to appreciate these stories because there is comparatively little psy
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Suzannah
I've always been extremely fond of the Mabinogion, and it was delightful to reread these stories (in Gwyn Jones's translation). Manawydan the son of Llyr and The Lady of the Fountain are two favourites, and I love the distinctive Welshness of these stories.
Mark Adderley
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 nar ...more
Linda
This is the book we are currently reading in the Celtic Studies Discussion Group that I have been running for over a year now. I have already read it in other translations, and I really enjoy it. This translation seems to be one of the most true, although I have a newer one that is full of phenomenal interpretation and commentary. Still, the Ford version is one better for our group.
John
A good translation of the Mabinogi, discarding the "thous" of the Jones translation. What becomes clear from this version is that the Welsh borrowed a fair bit from Irish sources, and they like to make fun of the English and Irish. Also, they have a good sense of humor.
Hilary
Mar 20, 2015 Hilary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Krissy
The Mabinogion is a collection of medieval Welsh tales that makes up a rich mythological tradition. The tales themselves are only tangentially related - only one character, Pryderi, appears in all four branches. Nevertheless the tales are fascinating, rich and varied in their interpretation. This translation, Sioned Davies, was recommended to me as a good starting point so I happily took it. I'll likely try out other translations as the year goes on.

Not being too thoroughly versed in Welsh cultu
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Debra
For those who are serious about understanding the roots of all storytelling, this is definitely a must-read. This book definitely helps you understand where the most common formulas for storylines come from, consisting of common uses such as the magic number of 3, fairies and the otherworld, and the connections to and from both parallel worlds. This is definitely one of the ultimate classics of European languages. This book is a great collection and documentation of the oral practices of storyte ...more
Andrew
I have five different translations of the Mabinogi, and this is the first one where I was able to finish the whole book, so on that basis alone Davies has my undying affection. Of the others, Ford's has works that this edition lacks, so if I can ever find my copy of it, I will read those to supplement the Davies edition. My only real problem with this translation is that when the "exciting parts" happen (usually the climax of a story), the narrative switches to present tense. Davies claims this ...more
Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: froggy princes
Recommended to Eddie by: John Cowper Powys
Shelves: myth
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 ...more
Helen
Not really a review, but I was asked for a opinion, so:

I'm nowhere near a qualified scholar of anything Welsh; therefore, I probably missed a lot of intricacies. On the top of that, I read the translation that is generally viewed as inferior. But needs (student's ever-empty pockets) must, so free ebook on smartphone during the commute it was.

Things I noticed:
-Invisibility and magic cauldrons play a great part, even in latter, Christian-influenced works. There are some elaborate illusions as well
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russell barnes
I'd heard of the Mabinogion, but just assumed it was just a Welsh version of Chaucer, and at 2 in a second hand bookshop it seemed a decent gamble.

Having read it, I now seem to have accidentally read three quarters of the key medieval texts about King Arthur. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing as all three have been quite enjoyable, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my new-found knowledge about corrupt folios, Red Books, White Books and the movement of the legends from Wales and C
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David Kenvyn
Returning to my Welsh roots. These stories are a wonderful mythological understanding of the history of these islands, including the foundation myth that is the story of Arthur. Don't worry about not being able to pronouce the names - no-one will know. Just lie back and enjoy the stories of knights and monsters and enchantments and magic animals and beautiful women and dreams and all those things that make up the best of stories ever told.
Keith
The best collection of old Welsh fairy tales about Arthur and his knights. Dr. Aaron Kleist made us read a few of these in undergrad days for Arthurian lit but it ravished me so much I swore I'd re-read it (all of it!) someday. That day came in April.

The stories I remember having a full-blown aesthetic experience with were just as good as I remember (Owein and the Countess of the Fountain, How Culwych Won Olwen) but also out of this world were The Dream of Maxen and Geraint and Enid. Highly rec
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Katrin
this book is a classic that I finally had to read. many stories or parts of them were already known to me. now I read the whole mabinogion. of course some parts are pretty much ridiculous from our point of view. but the stories are rich with mystery, history, magic, mythology and most of all love for wales. this is what made me read and enjoy it very much. many places are known to me. what a great collection, for me this ranges in the same league with other sagas I have read, like the edda, kale ...more
Kate
Хотелось бы эдак где-нибудь в приличном обществе выдать: "А я вот тут вот прочитала сборничек валлийских легенд..." Но не получилось бы. Потому что я никак не могу запомнить, как это называется. Манобигион? Магобинион? Стоп, там в середине были ноги. Ма-ноги-бином.
Узнала о существовании эдакой валлийской Эдды из книги Гарнера "Совиный сервиз". Гарнер точно гений и способный преобразователь старинных легенд, потому что в оригинале история о Ллео как его там, сыне Гвидиона, и о девушке-сове, даже
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Hilary
This second reading was significantly easier than the first, if only because I knew what to expect and to brace myself for the tedious list of How Culhwch Won Olwen. The bits of Taliesin included in this copy that weren't included in the Sioned Davies translation were also a distinct treat, though Davies included in hers some other material that Patrick K. Ford omitted. To each their own with this strange tradition.

For a first time reader I would recommend Davies, as she provides a more thorou
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Edward Richmond
I can't speak directly to the quality of the translation by Charlotte Guest, because I have no Welsh. This said, it's quite an old translation, dating back to 1849, and the introduction by Sioned Davies makes it clear that Guest's contemporaries criticized both inaccuracies in her translation and the lax scholarship involved in the project--suggesting that Guest may have made mistakes and otherwise played loose with her source material in a way to which readers should be alert. She was translati ...more
Christine S.r.
This is a collection of Celtic medieval stories--the 'Mabinogi' and a number of variants of Arthurian legends. I love the strangeness of these stories, despite how often they're retold, and how familiar I am with some of them in other versions. They're repetitive in subject matter and structure, but have a dream-like logic: with bizarre transformations, magical elements, and even segue and dropped plot-threads.
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Charlotte Guest (nee Bertie) was the daughter of Albemarle Bertie, 9th Earl of Lindsey and his second wife Charlotte Susanna Elizabeth Layard. She married John Josiah Guest, a significantly-older Welsh industrialist and politician and moved to Merthyr Tydfil. The couple had 10 children.

Later Lady Charlotte Schreiber, was an English businesswoman and translator. An important figure in the study of
...more
More about Charlotte Elizabeth Guest...
Mabinogion Tales Peredur, the Son of Evrawc Lady Charlotte Schreiber: Extracts from Her Journal, 1853-1891 Mabinogion Legends The Mabinogion Vol. 2

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“Since thou wilt not remain here, chieftain, thou shalt receive the boon whatsoever thy tongue may name, as far as the wind dries, and the rain moistens, and the sun revolves, and the sea encircles, and the earth extends; save only my ship; and my mantle; and Caledvwlch, my sword; and Rhongomyant, my lance; and Wynebgwrthucher, my shield; and Carnwenhau, my dagger; and Gwenhwyvar, my wife” 2 likes
“So they took the blossoms of the oak, and the blossoms of the broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet, and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that man ever saw. And they baptized her, and gave her the name of Blodeuwedd.” 1 likes
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