Blogs Don't Burn

My preferences are not important. Just look at what I've read, note what's lacking, and tell me to read it posthaste.

Irish Fairy Tales (January 2009) - James Stephens

Several months ago I read Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogion Tetralogy. Her homages to  Welsh myths were lyrically told; they contained characters whose struggles and motivations were extraordinarily compelling, and the gender dynamics in particular were sensitively and insightfully written. Walton proudly expressed her loyalty to her source material, saying that she did not cut anything from the original Welsh tales, but only fleshed out what was there. Having been charmed by Walton’s stories, I eagerly took up my first selection from one of her influences. What Walton would go on to do for The Mabinogi, Stephens does here for several stories from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. Unfortunately, where Walton would add meat and viscera to her sources, Stephens just seems to repackage the same old bones, but in a neater package. Walton leaves one curious to peruse the original myths, because one has seen the enticing fruits it has borne when planted in a fertile imagination. Stephens collection mostly just leaves one dissatisfied. Stephens sometimes refers to other stories, but does not retell them in detail, even though the ones he does retell are not always as interesting as those only hinted at or possibly left completely out. One thirsts for the actual sources after reading Stephens because there is greatness hinted at, but not realized. That said. there are some beautifully written passages here, and the better stories are well worth reading.

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