Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Voyage of St Brendan: Representative Versions of the Legend in English Translation

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Voyage of St Brendan: Representative Versions of the Legend in English Translation

Article excerpt

The Voyage of St Brendan: Representative Versions of the Legend in English Translation, ed. W. R. J. Barron and Glyn S. Burgess (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002). xi + 377 pp. ISBN 0-85989-656-0. £45.00.

The Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis tells of a sixth-century monk undertaking a pilgrimage to the terrestrial paradise. Originally composed in Latin towards the end of the ninth century, the legend enjoyed wide circulation throughout Europe. The importance of the Navigatio in Europe in the Middle Ages is shown by the enormous number of surviving manuscripts. Furthermore, during the twelfth century, the legend was translated into the vernacular and sometimes significantly adapted. This volume, edited by Ray Barron and Glyn Burgess, contains translations of ten versions of the Brendan narrative, most of which appear in English for the first time. The book contains prose translations as follows: John O'Meara's translation of the Latin Navigatio; the Anglo-Norman version translated by Burgess; the Middle Dutch translated by Willem Gerritsen and Peter King; the Middle High German version translated by Gerritsen and Clara Strijbosch; and the Venetian version translated by Mark Davie. The volume contains only a prose translation of these versions, as printed editions of the legend are readily available and including all versions would make the volume cumbersome and expensive.

The volume also has facing-page translations of five versions of the legend: two are in Middle English translated by Ray Barron. It also contains three obscure versions: the Occitan and Catalan versions translated by Margaret Burrell and the Norse version translated by Andrew Hamer. …

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