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Transforming the Mabinogion

Detailed re-examination of text includes explanatory notes and indices to help enhance reader’s understanding

Regarded by many as one of Wales’ greatest contributions to European literature, the Mabinogion is a rich mix of Celtic mythology and Arthurian romance captured by anonymous authors in eleven tales. Its translation into English by Professor Sioned Davies at Cardiff University has not only enhanced public understanding of the text but has led to new performances and inspired a series of modern stories.

Her detailed re-examination of the text has enabled modern audiences to understand how it would have been understood by medieval listeners and, crucially, performed. A rich collection of explanatory notes and indices has helped to enhance the reader’s understanding of this ancient text.

Professor Davies translation has led to a revival of the practice of telling the Mabinogion by contemporary storytellers. In addition, Seren Books commissioned award-winning authors to reinvent the original stories in a series entitled New Stories from the Mabinogion, inspiring such stories as White Ravens by Owen Sheers and The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis. The translation has also been the source for children’s books such as Margaret Isaac’s Arthur and the Twrch Trwyth (2012) and Daniel Morden’s Tree of Leaf and Flame (2012).

The translation has been used to develop tourism trails such as the Twrch Trwyth Trail in Cwmaman. A Mabinogion web portal and mobile app is being created in collaboration with the Pembrokeshire-based SME Writemedia Partnership to guide users to designated Mabinogion sites.

“The translation has changed what’s possible for writers in both Welsh and English, in Wales and beyond.” Gwyneth Lewis, National Poet of Wales.

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