Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Translated epics

Dear Hearts,

I would like to take the time to share with you a few stories I have particularly enjoyed recently.

These stories are of the prose variety, with nary a picture in sight.  Would you ever have believed it?  All of the books are recognised as epics, from days gone by.  They feature heroes and heroines galore, the Brave and the Bold, the Fearsome and sometimes Fearful.

Read The Tain, translated by Ciaran Carson.  Revel in the deeds of Cú Chulainn, legendary hero of Ulster!  The wicked Queen Maeve is possessed by an unbecoming greed and determines to seize the Brown Bull of Cooley.  The Ulstermen have been laid low by a monstrous curse and so Cú Chulainn comes to their rescue!  He has the strength of ten men, can leap might rivers, twist his body into inhuman shapes and recover from nearly all bodily wounds!  No man is safe from him - he has even bested the Scald Crow, Morrigan!

In turns vulgar, in turns gentle, this is a lusty, war loving, comedic interpretation of one of Eire's greatest tales.

Ursula Le Guin tackles the Aenid to supply us with Lavinia.  Lavinia refused to be sold and set about taking control of her destiny.  Told with grace and patience, this Lavinia is headstrong, devout and pious.  She accepts responsibility for the outcomes of her actions and manoeuvres into a position where she can retain her independence.  She has strength and poise.  This was a more welcome read after the francticness of The Tain.

Tales of the Tricksters is a veritable treasure trove of liars and cheats from around the world. Read this and meet the cunning and wily Fox, Hare, Spider, Cockerel and Rat.  There's some beautiful illustrations included too.

Lastly, I read David Wright's prose adaption of Beowulf.  For an unenlightened Philistine like yours truly, the move away form poetry to prose was most welcome.  This Beowulf is a warrior: bloody, prideful, absolutely certain of his God, offensive and rude.  He doesn't waste words and he gets straight to the point of the matter,  Ever convinced of his righteousness you may find his attitude a little off putting.

And that, dear readers, brings you up to date with my non comic readings.

(Edited to add: I'm not quite sure what style I was going for when I wrote this.  See I write things in my note book then type them up.  It's long winded but it feels more satisfactory.  Sometimes it leads to confusion about my choice of words)

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