Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Random Paperbacks:
The Mabinogion
(Everyman Library, 1975 /
originally published approx. 1350-1425AD)

Providing commentary on The Mabinogion – jewel in the crown of surviving Celtic culture and foggy well-spring of Arthurian myth – is somewhat beyond the remit of this weblog, but I can at least draw your attention to Jeff Thomas’s superbly lysergic cover art for this mid-‘70s Everyman Library paperback.

Initially bright and eye-catching, Thomas’s illustration – like all good psychedelic graphics – becomes more queasy and unsettling the longer one looks at it. If his ravenous, glassy-eyed crystalline beasts seem unlikely to have roamed the hills of Wales even in the realms of fantastical antiquity, they are no less nightmarish for it, and are, in my view, entirely in keeping with the singularly mind-bending outpourings of medieval weirdness found within.

By way of an example, here’s a representative passage from ‘Culhwch and Olwen’, concerning Arthur’s unseemly scuffles with a hag, amongst other things;

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