Ciaran Carson’s translation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, just out from Penguin. A ‘simply appalling text… endlessly scribbled over’, Frank O’Connor called it (the original).
Senchan the High Bard of Erin comes to stay with Gúaire, a prince of
The monk who copied the text of the Táin to be found in the Book of Leinster ended his ‘redaction’ with ‘a blessing on everyone who shall faithfully memorize the Táin as it is written here and shall not add any other form to it’, before entering a Christian caveat: ‘But I who have written down this story or rather this fable, give no credence to the story, or fable. For some thing in it are demonic deceptions, and other poetic figments; some are possible, and others not; while still others are for the entertainment of idiots.’
Very pleasing to learn from a footnote that one possible meaning of the Irish name Fergus is ‘male ejaculation’. No less beguiling is the fact that Queen Medb’s entourage (‘I had fifteen hundred royal mercenaries, the sons of exiles, and as many more the sons of freeborn native men, and for every soldier of them I had ten, and for every ten I had nine more, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And that was just my household guard.’) comes to a total of 40,458,703,000 persons.
I was sorry to see Maria Tymoczko’s name misspelled, twice in fact, in the introduction. Her The Irish Ulysses is one of the best, the most instructive books about Joyce I’ve read.