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The Mabinogion

Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
Length: 11 hrs and 14 mins
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)
Regular price: $17.49
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Publisher's Summary

Then they took the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and from those they conjured up the fairest and most beautiful maiden that anyone had ever seen.

Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and an intriguing interpretation of British history - these are just some of the themes embraced by the anonymous authors of the eleven tales that make up the Welsh medieval masterpiece known as The Mabinogion.

They tell of Gwydion the shape-shifter, who can create a woman out of flowers; of Math the magician whose feet must lie in the lap of a virgin; of hanging a pregnant mouse and hunting a magical boar. Dragons, witches, and giants live alongside kings and heroes, and quests of honor, revenge, and love are set against the backdrop of a country struggling to retain its independence.

Sioned Davies's lively translation re-creates the storytelling world of medieval Wales and reinvests the tales with the power of performance.

©2007 Sioned Davies (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Vibrant New Translation Puts You In Wales!

I've read four different translations of the Mabinogion, and this is by far the most vibrant and alive!
Sioned Davies' new translation really focuses on the oral experience of listening to a wonderful story
being told aloud, putting you in Wales, a thousand years ago in a castle, with a hunk of roasted meat
and a tankard of ale, drawn in by the Celtic Bards, who were the best story tellers on Earth!

Earlier translations have their good points, but two qualities hold them back: 1. The morality of the Christian
translator, who tries to hide key story elements like a wife who's pleased that she finally gets laid after a year
after her husband changed forms with a human. That's gonna draw a laugh in any hall in the world if it's well told though
it's modified to fit modern subdued non-Welsh women. 2. The translators too often are readers and writers, not story tellers with a focus on the oral tradition. These stories are meant to be heard with the smell of fireplace smoke and ale on a cold misty night, not in a library.

So if you want the woman's touch, and a real Welsh woman who makes 'em come alive for you: this is the translation. Lady Guest loved the Welsh and saved it. But she was a Brit and hers reads like a junior high girl's version of the tales.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The names and read-along

To me, James Cameron Stewart’s reading was disappointingly flat. But the translation is a useful update to the older, more commonly available one by Charlotte Guest.

And those names! They’re hard to decipher in audio, at least for me. What I did was purchase the Kindle version of the book and use the read-along feature to read and listen at the same time. I got at least an idea of how the spelling and pronunciation of Welsh names go together.

The tales themselves are fantastic and fantastical. There are kings large enough to wade across the Irish Sea and wives created from flowers; enchanted castles and magician kings. Several tales echo the Arthurian tales of Chretien de Troyes.

I had avoided the Mabinogion for years because I thought the stories would be complex. The names are, but the stories aren’t. They’re not tightly plotted, but they have the energy of folktales.

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  • Xerxes
  • 07-31-18

Dreadful Welsh pronunciation ruins this fine translation

Sioned Davies is widely regarded as the world's expert on The Mabinogion and her translation is magnificent- it captures the mood and feeling of early Medieval Wales brilliantly. So why was James Cameron Stewart chosen to read it? He cannot pronounce the Welsh names and utterly mangles the lyricism of the work. I stuck it out for Branch 1 - but his pronunciation of names like Pwyll had me on edge. I returned the audiobook and got my credit back. What a lost opportunity. What a pity Davies didn't get the narrator her translation deserves.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Man-O-War1977
  • 08-07-18

Brilliant

A really excellent translation performed.as it should be by a superb narrator. This is by far the best way to tackle a complex and often surreal text

0 of 1 people found this review helpful