Nothing illustrates the strange nature of these Welsh stories better than this vertically halved tree. The combination of fact and fantasy, of myth, history and folklore in The Mabinogion conjures up a magical enchated world, which is none the less firmly rooted in the forests, hills and valleys of ancient Wales. The eleven stories were composed orally over a span of centuries, before being written down in the thirteenth century. They make up, in their virtuosity and panache, one of the great Welsh epics.
'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'
Drawing on myth, folklore and history, the stories of the Mabinogion passed from generations of storytellers before they were written down in the thirteenth century in the form we now read them. Set in dual realms of the forests and valleys of Wales and the shadowy otherworld, the tales are permeated by a dreamlike atmosphere. In 'Math Son of Mathonwy' two brothers plot to carry off the virginal Goewin, while in 'Manawydan Son of Llˆyr' a chieftain roams throughout Britain after a spell is cast over his land. And King Arthur's court provides the backdrop to tales such as 'How Culhwch Won Olwen', in which a young man must complete many tasks before he can marry a giant's daughter, and 'Peredur Son of Evrawg' who strives to prove his valour as a knight.
In his introduction, Jeffrey Gantz discusses the sources, oral tradition and artistry of the tales. This edition includes introductory prefaces to each story, a list for further reading and a note on pronunciation.
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