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The Mabinogion

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  3,980 ratings  ·  211 reviews

The collection of medieval Welsh prose tales known as The Mabinogion tells of heroes on magical quests, knights-in-arms whose adventures take them to the far ends of the earth in pursuit of true love, and powerful women who sometimes betray and sometimes are betrayed.



The Mabinogion provides insight into Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and the performance techniques of

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Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 16th 1990 by Barnes & Noble Books (first published 1200)
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Community Reviews

(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
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
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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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.
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
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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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
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
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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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Corbin
Sep 27, 2008 Corbin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: myth nerds, Traci Harding fans, Arthurian legend buffs, maruts, misanthropes, mystics
Imagine King Arthur and his knights snuck up on the Tylweth Teg, clubbed them over the head, stole their coyote stories, and then changed all the endings.

In other words, this is a book about just how insufferably rude human beings can manage to be, just by upholding the ideals of their cultures of origin.
Cat
The Welsh tale of Pwyll, Prince of David is one of the few primary sources for the goddess Rhiannon with the horse one can never catch. It is a medieval story of rags to riches and riches to rags, baby swapping, betrayal, royal politics, and love. You know, all the stuff that makes for a good celtic tale....
Czarny Pies
Aug 31, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Des gens qui s'intéressent à la culture celte.
Recommended to Czarny by: Benjamin Disraeli
Shelves: mythology
Le Mabinogi (Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi en gallois) est la plus importante collection de mythes du pays des Galles. Traduit en Anglais par Lady Charlotte Guest entre 1838 et 1849, elle a eu des retentissements a travers toute la communauté internationale qui s'intéresse a la mythologie European qui existait avant l'avenement de la culture latine.

Si vous vous interessez a la mythologie Celte et votre langue maternelle n'est pas l'Anglais je vous conseille d'acheter une version Kobo ou Kindle. Le voc
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Mark Adderley
The main problem with this is that it's a really boring translation. It has excellent notes. There's a much better translation now available, by Sioned Davies.The Mabinogion
Morganu
The Mabinogion is a compilation of short stories of fantasy and folk tales to tell us a little about the history of the beautiful Wales
Janey
Well, that was never going to get read was it? Knights doing knightly things and the odd token damsel in distress...
GaryandRuth
Wonderful stories from Welsh mythology. Currently re-reading :)
Alison
There are eleven stories in this collection of medieval Celtic tales, some are better than others. The first four 'branches' of the Mabinogion have more colour and interest as stories, and it is interesting to see the links to traditional stories from other cultures - the man who cannot be killed on water or on land, on horseback or on foot etc also shows up in Indian folktales. They also make better use of symbolism - anything that is white or red you know will have supernatural powers, for exa ...more
Angela Alcorn
We own a few different translations of this, I think. I'm going to note down here exactly which ones we have for my own reference.

We have a translation by Sioned Davies:
The Mabinogion
The Mabinogion by Sioned Davies

We have two versions of Gwyn Jones translations:
The Mabinogion:
The Mabinogion (Everyman Paperback Classics) by Gwyn Jones
The Mabinogion
The Mabinogion (Everyman's library ; no. 97) by Anonymous

(And when I find the others I'll add those details too).
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Books can be attributed to "Unknown" when the author or editor (as applicable) is not known and cannot be discovered. If at all possible, list at least one actual author or editor for a book instead of using "Unknown".

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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
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