Intriguing background on the tale, mav. I wasn't sure how much of the tale was a legend of fact or fiction, but I did know of the Mabinogion link, since I happened to pick up a copy of Guest's translation last summer (but I've yet to read it, now next on my list) after looking into the background of "Gelert." (is there a proper Welsh pronunciation of Gelert, mav, please?) Still a searing tale, though, even if it's purely fiction. But, as a dog lover, I feel relieved to know it may actually have never happened. Here's a part of the intro that sheds more light on the evolution of the Mabinogion:
In the Thirteenth or Fourteenth Century, when the tales which comprise the Mabinogion were first written down in the Red Book of Hergest, Wales still possessed a special class of professional storytellers, or "bards." It was a highly regimented class, and those wishing to enter the bardic ranks were required not only to undergo a formal training in composition, but to learn as well a common body of traditional stories (Mabinogi) such as are found here. These stories had circulated orally for countless years, some perhaps since before Christianity came to Wales, and as time passed and new bards were taught the traditional lore, the stories naturally evolved and changed; words were altered, passages were forgotten or replaced, and changes in customs and beliefs were reflected. It is now impossible to ascribe to any tale a specific date of composition, much less a specific author, for the differences in subject and style among the stories show they are the work of many hands.
The Red Book of Hergest, from which this translation was made, is part of the collection of Jesus College, Oxford, and has therefore always been of limited availability to any but scholars. Prior to 1849, when, after eleven years of work, Lady Charlotte E. Guest (1812-1895) completed her three-volume edition of Mabinogion (published by Longman, London between 1841 and 1850) no other complete English translation had been made, and even those who knew Welsh were most likely unfamiliar with the Red Book's contents. The first edition met the needs of both the student and the lay reader, including not only the translation, but the text in Welsh and extensive explanatory notes as well. A one-volume edition, without the Welsh text, appeared in 1877, and Lady Guest's translation has retained its popularity ever since. Readers will find that the century and a half that have passed since the first publication of Guest's Mabinogion have not diminished her work, and the translation remains as timeless as the stories themselves.
Two paragraphs between the above cited, the first and the last, give a chronological overview of the tales in the Mabinogion.
So have there been other more recent translations, mav, or would one have to know Welsh and have access to explore The Red Book of Hergest to learn more accurately the content of the original bardic tales?
And, now, it's 2am here, as well, so I'll do some searching on the Red Book tomorrow...yawn....
The Only WO'N!