Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Oidhead Chloinne hUisneah (the Violent Death of the Children of Uisneach)

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Oidhead Chloinne hUisneah (the Violent Death of the Children of Uisneach)

Article excerpt

Oidhead Chloinne hUi.rneach (The Violent Death of the Children of Uisneach), ed. and trans. Caoimhin Mac Giolla Leith, Irish Texts Society 56 (London: Irish Texts Society, I993). z29 pp. ISBN I-87o-i6656-6. C30.oo.

The story of Deirdre is one of the best known of all Irish tales, in part through its place in the Tain Bd Cuailnge, but chiefly through the perceived literary excellence of the oldest forms of the tale and the amenability of the story to modern adaptation. In contrast, the late medieval version of this story presented in this edition is almost entirely unknown even to specialists, though widely distributed in handwritten and print versions from I6oo on: Mac Giolla Leith lists over one hundred of these. The attention given in this edition to this later (and previously despised) version is consonant with a wider movement in medieval studies in the last decades, where all the different forms of a text or story are now seen as valuable. Thus, within some two hundred pages, this edition provides a historical introduction, a handlist of every witness to the text and a classification of these, a transcription of the tale fragment in the Glenmasan manuscript, a reconstructed and modernized full text presented in facing pages with a very readable English translation and summary apparatus, editorial notes, surveys of language and metre, transcripts of another manuscript and of the introduction of Keating's Foras Fea,ra ar Eirinn, and various indexes. This is wealth indeed. …

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