Celtic Studies Books
These are posts discussing Celtic studies books. That includes book reviews and books about ancient Celts or Celtic languages or Celtic myth and literatures. Some of the books I discuss or include in book lists discuss Medieval literature, Middle English, Old English or Old Norse literatures and languages. Celtic studies books include books about Celtic Arthurian myths, druids, bog bodies, Medieval Irish or Medieval Welsh, or Irish, Welsh, Cornish and Scottish folklore, or Medieval Irish or Welsh manuscripts. I frequently discuss books about Celtic illuminated manuscripts like the Book of Kells or The Book of Lindisfarne. I also discuss other medieval manuscripts, like Lebor na Huidre, the Book of the Dun Cow, and the Book of Leinster. The books in question may be printed books, or Celtic ebooks. I like both printed codex books, and ebooks. I also read and write about Celtic books that are related to Celtic inspired fantasy and SF.
Neal Stephenson and Beowulf
Neal Stephenson, one of my favorite authors, was interviewed by Slashdot. Stephenson is best known for his SF, especially for Snowcrash and The Diamond Age. His recent work, including a mammoth trilogyThe Baroque Cycle, has brought him to the attention of people who might not ordinarily read SF. Stephenson has also written In the Beginning was the Command Line, a very readable treatise on the nature of computer interfaces. In the Slashdot interview, Stephenson draws a distinction between two types of modern writers and, in an extended analogy, compares them with Dante, who had wealthy aristocratic patrons, and to the Beowulf poet. Regarding the Beowulf poet Stephenson says: But I…
Shakespeare’s Quartos, Digitized
The British Library has digitized its collection of 93 copies of the 21 plays by Shakespeare printed in quarto before the theatres were closed in 1642. Shakespeare’s plays appear to have been first printed in 1594. Titus Andronicus was probably the first one. Eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays were published in quarto editions before he died in 1616. Quartos are small and very portable (think modern paperback) books that were made by folding a large sheet of paper into quarters. The first collected “official” printing of Shakespeare’s plays was the 1623 “first folio” edition of 36 plays by Shakespeare. The first folio was a production of Shakespeare’s friends, including actors from…
Padel Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature
The Green Man Review has posted my review of O. J. Padel’s Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature.
Matthews’ Song of Taliesin
The Green Man Review has published my review of John Matthews The Song of Taliesin: Tales from King Arthur’s Bard here. It’s hardly the worst Celtic book I’ve ever read, but I’m not wildly enthused about it. In fact reviewing two Neo Pagan books about Taliesin has inspired a bit of a rant about Neo Pagan Scholarship masquerading as an FAQ.
My review of John Matthews Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman is up at The Green Man Review. I’m not overly impressed with Matthews’ Taliesin as a scholarly work. I do think a case can be made for Celtic poets engaging in and writing about shamanic behaviors, and I’ve written about some of the standard scholarly sources regarding Taliesin here.
Medieval Comic Construction Kit
Metafilter brings us this Flash 6 driven “Historic Tale Construction Kit” which allows you to assemble comic style frame-by-frame stories with text and images, add them to a gallery to email them to friends. The images are taken from the Bayeux Tapestry, itself constructed to celebrate the victories of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
I’ve two reviews up at The Green Man Review. I review The Celts: A History by Ó Hógáin, and a DVD of a live Steeleye Span concert, Steeleye Span: A Twentieth Anniversary Celebration. And I should have an FAQ about Taliesin up soon, its completion inspired by two forthcoming book reviews.
Byatt on Modern Fantasy
In a New York Times piece, linked and commented on in Metafilter, author A. S. Byatt mourns the state of current fantasy literature, particularly Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Byatt refers to such books as “secondary secondary fantasy.” According to Byatt: Ms. Rowling’s magic world has no place for the numinous. It is written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip. Its values, and everything in it, are, as Gatsby said of his own world when the light had gone out of his dream, “only personal.” Nobody is trying to save or destroy…
Tolkien on Beowulf
There’s a SlashDot story that links to a story about the discovery by Professor Michael Drout (yes, he of the Wormtalk blog) having brought to light an unpublished and hitherto unknown translation of Beowulf by Tolkien. Drout has already edited and published Beowulf and the Critics. I can see, from the SlashDot story and other things I’ve seen on and off line about Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, in part because of the films, that I need to write an FAQ about Tolkien and languages, particularly the Celtic ones. Give me a couple of days, and I will.
Roman and Celtic Olfactory History
I’m working on my diss, and I notice that one of my citations lacks the publication date. I borrowed the book from a friend, and returned it long ago, so I decide to use Amazon to check the data. In the process I discover that there are, I kid you not, scratch and sniff history texts for kids. Like Roman Aromas, of which the publisher says: Young readers will learn that smells have played a powerful role in our history with these often funny tours back in time When the Romans arrived in Britain they soon showed the rampaging Celts the way to perfumed perfection. Poor old Celts–with their oils,…