Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Will Parker's "Four Branches of the Mabinogi"

I have been given a copy of Will Parker's greatly anticipated study of the Mabinogion to go through. I say anticipated when in fact I mean something more akin to voraciously hungered for. I heard about this book several months ago whilst looking over his site and have been itching to get hold of a copy. A while back several extract were posted up on his website and these whetted the appetite significantly. At this point I should warn that the hyperbole and superlative will become excessive. I make no apologies for this, especially as this book deserves each and every word of praise levelled at it.



The four branches of the Mabinogi



This is a mammoth book, at over 600 packed pages. What sets it apart from any other of it's type is that Will has formed a synthesis of the mythic material with it's sources with interpretations, added to this he has placed the whole mabinogi within the context of prehistory and medieval history and politics. This effectively means that the mabinogi is studied in the context of the people with which it arose, evolved and developed with prior to its eventual committal to parchment.

Last night I read through the second chapter concerning the first branch. This book is stunning. He has taken the individual branches and clothed them in a colourful series of leaves, twigs and buds. his means of treating the mabinogi is astounding, the work that must have gone into this book defies comprehension. It is going to take me a while to read the book in all, especially with work at the moment. however, I cannot wait to get more reading in. Once done I think I will start all over again but make notes also. This is a bittersweet time - I have in front of me a wonderful work which I want to devour and read from cover to cover, however I also want to absorb it fully. I cannot do both at once which is terribly frustrating. Patience.

HIGHLY recommended. I suggest buying it straight from the author via his website.


4 comments:

Bo said...

It is very good. It's full of really clever new thoughts and a great deal of synthesis of previous scholars' work, as he notes in his introduction. Not everyone would agree with everything he has to say, but it fizzes with good ideas. Sometimes they're a bit airborne: in the section on 'Math' he raises the possiblity that it might be possible to reconstruct the englynion sung by Gwydion into Old Welsh or even Brythonic. Old Welsh might *just* be possible (I'm going to try it later) but Brythonic is impossible, because of various features of the sentence structure, of which he should have been aware. Etc Etc...just being a pedant, really!

lee said...

you will of course have to let me know how you get on with the englyn :)

im looking forward to the Branwwen section... actually, i want to read it all now!

Baph said...

I think you mean that you have a copy for review, and it, like the other big welsh book, will be returned to the coven library....

anyways, can I have your publishable review soon to include in the next issue...

lee said...

the review will be there tomorrow, the article is taking shape. i should get a significant chunk done today then any more over the next couple of days. work is a problem as i am working the next three days.

i am very fortunate that this particular library does not make you give it back after 2 weeks :) This is a monster book. I'm only halfway through reading it properly.