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Celtic Miscellany, A: Translations from the Celtic Literatures (1951)

von Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson

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Including works from Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Breton and Manx, this Celtic Miscellany offers a rich blend of poetry and prose from the eighth to the nineteenth century, and provides a unique insight into the minds and literature of the Celtic people. It is a literature dominated by a deep sense of wonder, wild inventiveness and a profound sense of the uncanny, in which the natural world and the power of the individual spirit are celebrated with astonishing imaginative force. Skifully arranged by theme, from the hero-tales of Cú Chulainn, Bardic poetry and elegies, to the sensitive and intimate writings of early Celtic Christianity, this anthology provides a fascinating insight into a deeply creative literary tradition. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.… (mehr)
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A Celtic Miscellany is an anthology of excerpts from Celtic literature (mainly Irish and Welsh, but also Scottish, Breton, Cornish, and Manx). It contains a lot of material, from mythology to love poetry to folk songs and prayers to bardic elegies, both well-known tales and many pieces that would likely be hard to find elsewhere. That said, it's kind of an odd book. It groups the pieces by theme (hero-tale, nature, love, etc.) rather than by country of origin or chronologically, and many of the excerpts are quite short and presented without much context or explanation (there's a short introduction to each themed section, and a series of notes at the back, but I'm not sure that either of these is that helpful). Most oddly (I thought), the poetry is presented as prose, which makes sense due to the difficulties of translating Celtic verse-forms into English, but makes for a somewhat disconcerting reading experience. That said, however, I did enjoy slowly reading through this book. As I said above, the material is varied and it's likely that you'll find something in it to interest you. This would be a good book to round out a collection of Celtic literature, but I would not suggest it as your first introduction to the subject. ( )
1 abstimmen Heather39 | Jan 26, 2021 |
This book has problems that made it nowhere near as worthwhile as I'd hoped:

First, it's full of fragments, except where the wholes are very short, anyway. Excerpts just make me want to see the full thing, to get the context and story properly. Second, there's poetry in here, but it's translated as prose. Whenever someone says, "It's not possible to translate poetry," they really mean, "I'm not up to the task but my ego won't allow me to admit it."

One does get a flavour of the literatures (all six Celtic languages) but it forever left me wanting more or better.
( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
It's really hard, unfortunately, to read this anthology of Celtic literature. Anthologies themselves don't tend to lend themselves to reading straight through, and in many cases in this volume, even with the notes, the references can be obscure. Strictly, I think, for Celtic studies/Old English types. ( )
  EricCostello | Mar 10, 2020 |
A Celtic Miscellany from Penguin Classics

There's plenty to get your teeth into here, from whole tales ('How CuChulainn Got His Name' for example) to little snippets ('You Are Whiter Than The Swan' from Scots Gaelic).

Everything is grouped thematically, and I enjoyed the sheer variety of material - from 'Hero Tale And Adventure' and 'Love' to 'Humour and Satire'. And there's more serious matters, too, - Bardic Poetry and 'Elegy' and a spiritual section on 'Religion'.

I lingered long over the section on Celtic Magic, particularly enjoying 'The Magic Gaming Board' and 'Drowned Giantesses'.

There's so much variety in this book. A ghost story, a charm with yarrow and selection from the Early Welsh Laws.

Some of the works are surprisingly late of date, from 1513 and the eighteen hundreds. It's welcome that this isn't entirely a collection of ancient texts, but that it also recognises the continuing vibrancy of Celtic culture. I'd love to see a second volume just for this century, given the resurgence of Gaelic in modern culture.

Celtic works have such a beautiful, haunting quality that always lodges itself deep in my heart. ( )
1 abstimmen johncadamssf | Nov 21, 2019 |
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PREFACE
 
There have been a number of anthologies of translations from Celtic literature published since Charlotte Brooke's Reliques of Irish Poetry (1789), though hardly any are now still in print.
HERO-TALE AND ADVENTURE
 
NOTE
 
Literary historians are familiar with the concept of what is called the Heroic Age. The theory is that early in the evolution of society a stage is reached when, in a materially and socially simple contest, an aristocratic warrior caste dominates the scene....
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Including works from Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Breton and Manx, this Celtic Miscellany offers a rich blend of poetry and prose from the eighth to the nineteenth century, and provides a unique insight into the minds and literature of the Celtic people. It is a literature dominated by a deep sense of wonder, wild inventiveness and a profound sense of the uncanny, in which the natural world and the power of the individual spirit are celebrated with astonishing imaginative force. Skifully arranged by theme, from the hero-tales of Cú Chulainn, Bardic poetry and elegies, to the sensitive and intimate writings of early Celtic Christianity, this anthology provides a fascinating insight into a deeply creative literary tradition. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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