The Celtic West and Europe

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The particularities of early medieval Ireland may have less to do with the 'Celticity' of its inhabitants than with a certain paradox in its geographical setting. For the seafaring peoples, it formed an integral part of Europe, connected as it was by a web of seaways with neighbouring Britain and the Continent, but the architects of the Roman Empire, with their preference for connections over land, deemed it too marginal to justify a conquest. The fact that the island remained outside the organizational structure...

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Overview

The particularities of early medieval Ireland may have less to do with the 'Celticity' of its inhabitants than with a certain paradox in its geographical setting. For the seafaring peoples, it formed an integral part of Europe, connected as it was by a web of seaways with neighbouring Britain and the Continent, but the architects of the Roman Empire, with their preference for connections over land, deemed it too marginal to justify a conquest. The fact that the island remained outside the organizational structure of the Roman world, does not imply that it remained outside Roman cultural influence, but that it was able to absorb the rich stimuli from that world according to its own needs.

The gradual introduction of literacy in Ireland, with the Irish themselves as agents, not only explains the tenacity of the oral medium, but also the important place accorded to the vernacular in the written culture. Thus early medieval Ireland has left us, in addition to a substantial Latin literature, the most extensive and diverse vernacular literature of Europe. The flexible organizational model that resulted from the integration of the Church in a rural society dominated by family interests, also proved to be useful in other parts of non-Romanized Europe.

The studies range from the early epic tradition of Celtic Britain and Ireland via the voyage and vision literature and the legal material to the conversion of the Germanic peoples in Britain and the Lower Rhine region.

About the Author:

Doris Edel is professor of Celtic languages and culture at the University of Utrecht and is editor of Cultural identity and Cultural Integration (Dublin, 1995).

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Editorial Reviews

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A collection of 19 essays Edel (Celtic languages and culture, U. of Utrecht) wrote and published mostly between the early 1980s and the middle 1990s, 13 of which she translated specifically for the volume. They discuss Ireland and Europe, people in early Ireland, the early church and literary imagination, church and society, the role of women, in search of the tradition, studies in the in B<'o> C<'u>ailnge/>, and Wales and Arthurian literature. Distributed in the US by ISBS. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851822690
  • Publisher: Four Courts Press
  • Publication date: 5/21/2001
  • Pages: 320

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 9
Preface 11
Acknowledgments 15
List of Abbreviations 17
Ireland and Europe
1 Identity and integration: Ireland in the early Middle Ages 19
People in Early Ireland
2 Women in Celtic culture 35
3 Common people in early Ireland 51
The Early Church and Literary Imagination
4 Sea-voyages and visions: the exploration of the Otherworld 64
5 Antipodes, anchors, and a world-under-the-water 80
6 The Irish background of the legend of Brendan 94
Church and Society
7 Usque ad ultimum terrae. The Christianization of Ireland: a learned culture between conflict and integration 112
8 The Christianization of medieval Europe: Willibrord 121
9 Church and lay society in Anglo-Saxon Britain: Northumbria and its neighbours before and after 634/35 A.D. 137
The Role of Women
10 Myth versus reality: Queen Medb of Connacht and her critics, ancient and modern 153
In Search of the Tradition
11 The insular-Celtic narrative tradition between orality and literacy 177
12 The concept of the Lord of Animals in the early epic literature of Ireland 197
Studies in the Tain Bo Cuailnge
13 Tain Bo Cuailnge and the dynamics of the matter of Ulster 208
14 The Tain Bo Cuailnge between orality and literacy: prolegomena to a history of its development 216
15 Text and memory 227
16 Mental text, landscape, politics, and written codification: the Irish epic Tain Bo Cuailnge 231
Wales and Arthurian Literature
17 The Arthur of Culhwch ac Olwen as a figure of epic-heroic tradition 239
18 The catalogues in Culhwch ac Olwen and insular-Celtic learning 248
19 Geoffrey's so-called animal symbolism and insular-Celtic tradition 264
Appendix 280
Bibliography 291
Index 311
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