Mabinogion
A collection of ancient Welsh legends translated into English
by Lady Charlotte Guest (1812–1895) and published
1838–49. The title is the plural form of the Welsh maginogi,
originally indicating stories of a hero’s childhood, but is here
used in the wider sense of ‘‘hero tale.’’ The stories in this collection
are from various manuscript sources, originally part of the
oral tradition of professional minstrels known as cyvarwyddon.
In this collection, the section entitled the Four Branches of the
Mabinogi derives from a manuscript ca. 1060 C.E., dealing with
pre-Christian myths that have affinities with traditional Irish
folklore. Kilhwch and Olwen is from a manuscript ca. 1100 C.E.
and is an early Arthurian romance. The Dream of Rhonabwy is
another Arthurian story, related to the French recension of
Didot Perceval. The Lady of the Fountain, Geraint, and Peredur are
also Arthurian, ca. 1200 C.E., colored by Breton and French culture,
although Celtic in origin. The Dream of Maxen, dating from
the twelfth century, is a literary work rather than folk tale, the
plot resembling the Irish Dream of Oengus. Taliesin dates from
a sixteenth-century manuscript; it concerns a famous bard of
the sixth century and has affinities with Irish legends.
In addition to the translation by Lady Charlotte Guest, there
is also a later translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones
(1949). (See also Wales)