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The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  284 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The four stories which make up the Mabinogi along with three additional tales from the same tradition form this collection and comprise the core of the ancient Welsh mythological cycle. Included are only those stories that have remained unadulterated by the influence of the French Arthurian romances, providing a rare, authentic selection of the finest works in medieval Cel ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by University of California Press
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Stephanie Griffin
Feb 04, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  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.
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.
Apr 02, 2016 Phillip rated it really liked it
Shelves: pre-20th-century
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
Mar 25, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Peter Aronson
Mar 16, 2016 Peter Aronson rated it it was amazing
These stories (among others) lie at the root of the stories if Arthur and Merlin. A very readable translation with useful notes at the beginning of each tale, and made as clear as the source material allows.
Joseph F.
Feb 10, 2016 Joseph F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Mabinogion is a collection of eleven mythological Welsh stories. In this book, Ford includes six of the eleven stories and one more not normally grouped with them (Taliesin). Among the tales are the all important Four Branches of the Mabinogi: four myths that are loosely connected to each other.
Confused a bit? Don't worry. What you need to know is that these wonderful mythical tales are what make up the centerpiece of Wales' contribution to the world's mythology, as well as being masterpiec
Apr 20, 2015 Hilary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, own, folklore, 2015
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
Feb 24, 2009 Cat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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....
Mary Overton
From "Culhwch and Olwen"

How Culhwch got his name, which means swine or pig:
"Cilydd son of Celyddon Wledig desired a woman as well-born as himself. The woman he wanted was Goleuddydd daughter of Anlawdd Wledig. After his wedding feast with her, the country went to prayer to see whether they would have an heir. And through the country's prayers, they got a son. From the time she became pregnant she went mad and avoided civilized places. When her time came her senses returned to her. Where they did
This is a collection of old Welsh myths, mostly translated from medieval texts. It is harder reading than most of the fare I read, since there is very little explanation of the world-view that surrounds the stories. The authors prefaces to each of the tales are immensely helpful.

There are a few stories in here that are really interesting, like the story of Pwyll, who saved a faeire (sidhe) king at his request by impersonating him. It's one of only a few mythological stories that I've read in whi
Jul 28, 2011 Chris rated it liked it
The stories here are mostly pretty good. Reading about Math building a gallows out of forks and thread for a pregnant mouse: awesome.

But there are some issues.

The translation has a lot of problems with unclear dialogue. It's no fun to have to reread a conversation multiple times just to keep track of who said what and what it all means. That's especially tricky given how archaic the sound of this translation is, despite it intending to be more modern and clear.

Also, the longest of the tales, 'C
I am re-reading this as it shows an oral tradition morphing into literature, with tales "branching" of in related episodes, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. These stories origins are fogged by time, like the origins of the Welsh people from the post-Roman Britons. In that fog lies the answer of nation-hood and cultural identity. American folktales come from a post-literate people, unless they arise from Native cultures. This fog of time where stories are passed down is one of the obsessions of ...more
This was a different format of fairytale and folklore than anything I'd read before though I could catch a peek of familiar figures... especially of characters from the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (an old and trusty favorite of mine). It was a bit difficult to read. (There was a four page list of names and attributes of all the attendants of a feast and that reminded me forcefully of the 'begat' sections in the Old Testament.) But there were a ton of fun names like "Esgeir Gulhwch Gonw ...more
Tommy /|\
This is the second translation of the Mabinogi that I have read. I do have to tip my hat to Mr. Ford - his knowledge of the material is quite extensive, and he does an excellent job of relaying it in an understandable manner. However, I have one complaint on the material. Mr. Ford puts his explanations of each tale just before your read the tale. And his synopsis is so detailed, that it actually spoils the tale for the reader. It would have been far better, in my opinion, for Mr. Ford's explanat ...more
Amanda Coppedge
I read the Gantz translation in 2011. Reading the Patrick K. Ford translation in 2014.
fy paganiaeth
May 28, 2012 fy paganiaeth rated it it was amazing
Incredible introduction that helps place the tales in a larger Indo-European tradition, referencing similarities to Gaulish/continental, Roman, and Irish deity names, and linking certain Irish tales to elements within the Welsh tales.

This translation and Sioned Davies' translation are the best two, in my opinion. Also I'm glad that Ford got rid of the "Mabinogion" title, which was a scholarly error/mistranslation that has obnoxiously persisted.
Apr 16, 2010 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the mab. It is wonderful story telling and a fascinating read. I would especially recommend it to fans of fantasy, such as the works of Tolkien, which are based largely on Welsh myth. Of all the works of Northern European mythology, this is definitely my favorite.

This isn't the edition I originally read, but it is the beautiful edition my fiance searched out to the end of the earth to get for me.
Nov 30, 2011 Andie rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these stories. I love mythology and folktales so this was a trip for me. It was filled with magic and recognizable stories so I enjoyed it. One story was the only one that I didn't enjoy and the reason why I am not giving it five stars. It was good but way repetitive. The rest of the stories were great. Had a lot of fun reading them too.
Joe Marley
Jul 03, 2011 Joe Marley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a great translation by Ford. He was able to keep the medieval flavor without being to esoteric. The stories ranged from 'quite interesting and fun' (Math Son of Mathonwy) to 'almost as tedious as the Old Testament'(Culhwch and Olwen). But they all give insight into Welsh mythologies and cultural ideas.
Apr 23, 2013 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some very interesting stories, but the introduction to each was what made this a really enjoyable read. I certainly had trouble keeping all the names straight and coming up with crazy pronunciations in my head, but I found it very interesting to compare these stories to the more well known myths I've read in the past.
Jun 27, 2007 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folklore
These narratives, perhaps as old as 1000 years, combine elements of myth, legend, wondertale, cultural practice, and language of Wales and represent early material of Arthurian romance and yet present a far more alien and supernatural world, offering a murky glimpse into Iron-Age humanity.
Jan 13, 2013 Bianca rated it really liked it
I've never heard of these tales, so I can't remark on the quality of the translation. Overall the author's expertise on the subject allows a first-time reader to focus on the more important aspects and overarching themes.
Apr 17, 2010 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Lively accounts of a game called badger-in-the-bag add to the charm of this collection of Welsh folklore, presented in readable prose by Ford and containing intriguing early incarnations of Arthurian tales.
Feb 20, 2011 Dawn added it
Shelves: welsh
Great translation, easy to read, but Ford's writing style in the Intro, etc., are very awkward and nearly non-sensical. It's not just me, my Northern European Myths professor doesn't like it either.
Aug 17, 2007 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very dated material - from the medieval period. Full of early Christian still-have-not-fully-dropped-our-pagan-roots stories, and magic.
I loved the first branch of the Mabinogi, but after that my interest level began to fall off.
The only tale I've read in this is 'Branwen, Daughter of Llyr', and it was gory and sad.
May 22, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
Good. Important to understand the Welsh tradition of Arthurian romance.
Bill Tillman
Saving review for Americymru. One of my top 5 Mabinogi.
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