Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literature

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In the Middle Ages Ireland's extensive and now famous literature was unknown outside the Gaelic-speaking world of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man - with Wales an important exception. Irish emigrants had settled in Wales from the fifth century onwards, Irish scholars worked in Wales in the ninth century, and throughout the Middle Ages there were ecclesiastical, mercantile, and military contacts across the Irish Sea. From this standpoint, it is not surprising that the names of Irish heroes such as Cu Roi, Cu Chulainn, Finn, and Deirdre became known to Welsh poets, and that Irish narratives influenced the authors of the Welsh Mabinogion. Yet the Welsh and Irish languages were not mutually comprehensible, the degree to which the two countries still shared a common Celtic inheritance is contested, and Latin provided a convenient lingua franca. Could some of the similarities between the Irish and Welsh literatures be due to independent influences or even to coincidence? Patrick Sims-Williams provides a new approach to these controversial questions, situating them in the context of the rest of medieval literature and international folklore. The result is the first comprehensive estimation of the extent to which Irish literature influenced medieval Welsh literature. This book will be of interest not only to medievalists but to all those concerned with the problem of how to recognize and evaluate literary influence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This essential reading in medieval Irish and Welsh literature an dcomparative literary studies possesses interest outside its immediate fields." —Sixteenth Century Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199588657
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/25/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Sims-Williams has been Professor of Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth University since 1994 and was previously Reader in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon an the University of Cambridge. He is the author of eight other books on Celtic and Anglo-Saxon topics and edits the journal Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1996 and is currently President of the International Congress of Celtic Studies.

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Table of Contents

List of maps
1. Introduction
2. Irish Vernacular Influence on the Earliest Welsh Literature
3. Kaer Sidi and other Celtic Otherworld Terms
4. Narrative Techniques in Irish and Welsh, I: The 'Slavic Antithesis'
5. Narrative Techniques in Irish and Welsh, II: The Riddling 'Watchman Device'
6. The Irish Elements in Culhwch and Olwen
7. The Irish Geography of Branwen
8. The Submission of Irish Kings in Fact and Fiction
9. Llasar and the Lake of the Cauldron
10. The Iron House, the Men in Bags, and the Severed Head
11. Cu Chulainn in Late Medieval Wales
12. Fionn, Deirdre, and Lebarcham in Late Medieval Wales
13. Irish Influence on Medieval Welsh Literary Criticism?
14. 1. Conclusion
Abbreviations and References

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