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The last two tales in the MABINOGI were set down in the sixteenth century by one Elis Gruffydd, an educated man of Welsh extraction (The Tale of Gwion Bach, and The Tale of Taliesin"). Ford says that although no manuscript dating from an earlier era has turned up, it is apparent from the structure of the stories Gruffyd recorded that the two tales are very old and may have been copied in earlier times and the manuscripts lost. Gruffydd apparently was familiar with the oral versions of the tales which were still being retold in sixteenth century Wales which makes them all the more remarkable. events.
The tales of the Mabinogi set down in Ford's translation are somewhat interlinked, much as a set of short stories might be today, or as the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable were in the 12th Century. Characters in one tale show up in another and King Arthur shows up in The Tale of Taliesin ("shining forehead") the remarkable bard whose poems fill the last few pages of Ford's book. Ford suggests literal truth, moral insights and religious/philosophical/magical elements form the basis of these tales. For example, a good deal of evidence exists to support the notion King Arthur lived sometime in the 5th-6th Centuries and Merlin may have been his counselor. On the other hand, the feats of Cerwidan the shape-shifting mother of Morfan and brewer of the cauldron of inspired wisdom are not as well documented, and may be largely mythical/religious. The feats performed by magicians and witches in these tales are quite amazing, but the creation of Blodeuedd (flower face), the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lugh, the fair one with skilled hands), conjured out of flowers by Math and Gwydion, is the best. She was transformed into an owl in punishment for her unfaithfulness to Llew which is why some owls have faces that look like "blowed" flowers.
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It probably deserves 1 star, but I've given it 2 out of respect for the fact that they've attempted to tackle such a difficult subject in the first place.
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