The Tain: From the Irish epic Tain Bo Cuailnge Paperback – Sep 1 2002
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From the Publisher
31 b/w brush drawings throughout
About the Author
Thomas Kinsella is a poet and translator. Among his publications are Blood and Family and From Centre City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Due to a curse, the men of Ulster are doomed to suffer severe bouts of pain whenever they are faced with great difficulties. So, as Ailill and Medb approach Ulster, only Cuchulain can stand and fight. The 'Tain' and its peripheral tales are the story of Ulster's defense, first by Cuchulain, and finally by the massed men of Ulster, risen from their pangs. Poet Thomas Kinsella's telling of this story starts with the early history of Ulster and then introduces Cuchulain, who will be the hero of many of Ulster's legends.
This is a remarkable effort from a literary standpoint. Whether by Kinsella's art or the nature of the original language of the text, the "Tain bo Cuailnge" is one of the most accessible of the old epics. The language lacks the overblown pretensions of many translations, remaining clear and understandable whether it is prose or verse. Kinsella himself states that this is a translation, not a retelling, but the introduction leaves some doubt about the precise meaning of 'translation.' In any case, Kinsella's efforts have made the story come to life, bringing home beautifully both the glory and tragedy of a conflict that must have decimated the fighting men of an entire country.
The Irish of the "Tain's" writing loved making lists. Lists of heroes, lists of weapons, and lists of places abound.Read more ›
"If this your royal rock
were your own self mac Roich
halted here with sages
searching for a roof
Cuailnge we'd recover
plain and perfect Fergus."
The above was spoken by the poet Muirgen at Fergus's grave, and summoned the spirit of Fergus to... Oh, just buy it and read it.
The epic of the Tain is starting to creep back into our lives. Only recently a software company calle Bungie included many Irish myths as a foundation for one of their most popular games to date. The Tain is also once again being performed by storytellers and it's an excellent tale either oral or written. On a side note, the pronunciation guide is a bit lacking, you'll have to do some leg work to get the proper pronuciation of some Irish words and names.
This is not a retelling or a novelized version of the Ulster cycle tales. Rather this is a translation of an ancient saga equivalent to the Odyssey, Iliad, or Mahabarata. Years ago, not long after this book was first printed, I had the good fortune to hear Thomas Kinsella, an eminent modern Irish poet, describe how in translating the Ta/in, he combined his own vision with expert input from scholars of the ancient language. The voice in this translation is that of Kinsella, but it echoes the voices of all those who came before him. Having studied the ancient language and texts myself, I feel that Kinsella has produced a work of poetic art that is nevertheless faithful to the meaning and spirit of the stories. The beautiful semi-abstract images by Le Brocquy are not really illustrations but accompanying art, demonstrating how the cycle of Ulster tales, which has inspired Irish artists through various eras, continues to kindle the creative fire in those who read and hear them.
If you are interested in learning about pre-Christian Irish--or Celtic--tradition, the Ta/in is indispensable reading.Read more ›
As one other reviewer noted, it used to be that if you wanted a good rendering of Old Irish you almost had to turn to German translations. The tide is turning, and much good material is now available in English. My only complaint about this version is that I would have liked to see more notes. But then admittedly Mr. Kinsella was seeking to provide a version that was literary but not recondite. If you're interested in Irish literature this book belongs in your library.
Most recent customer reviews
This is one of the greatest mythological tales recorded. Unlike what the summary says, it is not the 'closest thing Ireland has to a national epic'. Read morePublished on March 31 2004 by Surreal
Having heard it referenced so many times (and finally figuring out how to pronounce it!)I finally bought The Tain. Read morePublished on May 18 2002 by Amazonbombshell
The Tain is an important resource for anyone interested in ancient Ireland, offering tantalizing insights into a history and culture that will forever remain mysterious. Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2001 by Jane Raeburn
This book is good if you're interested in old Irish and Celtic mythology. However general audiences will probably be frustrated by dissonant storyline and the confusing lists of... Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2001 by Patrick Mcgranaghan
I've read a dozen different versions of the Tain, mostly fiction but I've also seen some almost indecipherable translations out there. Read morePublished on July 24 2000 by Robert A. Hans
This book is a necessity because of it's early date. (The original version stemming from c.500 BC) From a part of the world that does not have a great literary tradition, we... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 1998 by email@example.com
This is a literary masterpiece to match the 5th(?) century manuscript: action, adventure, deceit, love, death, life, marriage, and hurling! What more could I ask for? Read morePublished on March 30 1998
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