A Century Of Welsh Myth In Children's Literature

A Century Of Welsh Myth In Children's Literature

by Donna White
     
 
Myth, legend, and folklore have been entrenched in children's literature for several centuries and continue to be popular. Some of the most ancient traditional tales still extant come from the Celtic cultures of France and the British Isles, whose languages are among the oldest in Europe. Among these tales are four native Welsh legends collectively known as the

Overview

Myth, legend, and folklore have been entrenched in children's literature for several centuries and continue to be popular. Some of the most ancient traditional tales still extant come from the Celtic cultures of France and the British Isles, whose languages are among the oldest in Europe. Among these tales are four native Welsh legends collectively known as the Mabinogi, which were first translated into English in 1845 by Lady Charlotte Guest. Numerous children's books have been based on the Mabinogi since then, and many have received awards and critical acclaim. Because these books are written for children, they are not necessarily faithful retellings of the original tales. Instead, authors have had to select certain elements to include and others to exclude. This book examines how authors of children's fantasy literature from the 19th century to the present have adapted Welsh myth to meet the perceived needs of their young audience.The volume begins with a summary of the four principle tales of the Mabinogi: Pwyll Prince of Dyfed, Branwen Daughter of Llyr, Manawydan Son of Llyr, and Math Son of Mathonwy. Books based on the Mabinogi generally fall into two categories: retellings of the myths, and original works of fantasy partially inspired by the Welsh tales. Beginning with Sidney Lanier's The Boy's Mabinogion, the first part of this book examines versions of the myths published for children between 1881 and 1988. The second part discusses imaginative literature that borrows elements from the Mabinogi, including Alan Garner's The Owl Service, which won a Carnegie medal, and Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, the final volume of which received the ALA Newbery Award for outstanding children's book.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
In this volume of "The Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy" series, White explores the influence of Welsh mythology on children's literature. Providing a critical examination of this subject from the perspective of a literary critic, this book will probably be of interest to students studying Welsh mythology, scholars of mythology and/or children's literature, and avid readers of Welsh mythology. White's introduction provides a brief description of the Celtic myth cycle the Mabinogi to provide context for her later discussions. She also provides a chapter length critical overview of the retelllings of the Mabinogi from 1896-1988. Taking an in-depth look at the portrayal of Welsh mythology in Lanier's The Boy's Mabinogion, Garner's The Owl Service and Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, she concludes her book length study with an overview of the Mabinogi in fiction from 1970 to 1992. Written in a readable, but often dense style of academic writing, this book has a limited audience, but the author addresses her subject with skill, intelligence, and interest.
School Library Journal
In this highly readable volume, White concentrates on the ancient stories known collectively as the Mabinogi. She explores the various retellings that have been published in the last 150 years, focusing on the appearance of these stories and themes in original fantasy literature for children, most notably in the work of British writer Alan Garner and American author Lloyd Alexander. In exploring their novels, White illuminates the connection between the ancient legends and the authors' own creative inventions in plot, characterization, and theme. Other writers who have adapted parts of the Mabinogi in their books are discussed in less depth. Occasionally, White's own critical prejudices are too apparent; she is curiously dismissive of Nancy Bond's remarkable fantasy, A String in the Harp. However, she makes some fascinating points about the importance of fantasy, its appeal to certain types of readers, and the different perceptions of the genre in England and America. A significant study to support children's literature courses and for those with an interest in these distinctive myths.-Connie C. Rockman, Stratford Library Association, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Describes and analyzes versions of the ancient Celtic myths adapted for children. Among them Sidney Lanier's Kenneth Morris' , Alan Garner's , Lloyd Alexander's and The Mabinogi in fiction from 1970 to 1992. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313305702
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/30/1998
Series:
Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy Series
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author

DONNA R. WHITE is Assistant Professor of English at Clemson University. She has published several articles and reviews on Welsh myth and children's literature.

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