Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature

O. J. Padel

Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature
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O. J. Padel

Distributed for University of Wales Press

144 pages | 8-3/5 x 5-1/2 | © 2000
Cloth $32.95 ISBN: 9780708316894 Published December 2000 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Although the legends of Arthur have been popular throughout Europe from the middle ages onwards, the earliest references to Arthur are to be found in Welsh literature, starting with the Welsh-Latin Historia Brittonum which dates from the ninth century. By the twelfth century Arthur was a renowned figure wherever Welsh and its sister languages were spoken.
O.J. Padel proves an overall survey of medieval Welsh literary references to Arthur and emphasizes the importance of understanding the character and purpose of the texts in which allusions to Arthur occur. Texts from different genres are considered together and shed new light on the use which different authors make of the multifaceted figure of Arthur, from the folk legend associated with magic and animals to the literary hero, soldier and defender of country and faith. Other figures associated with Arthur, such as Cai, Bedwyr and Gwenhwyfar, are also discussed.
Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature is an important and revealing contribution to Arthurian studies and will appeal to anyone interested in understanding more about the legends of Arthur and their sources in medieval Welsh tradition.

“ . . . fills a major gap by providing a concise and easily digested introduction to Arthur as he appears in medieval Welsh literature . . . . If this elegantly written and intelligent guide may be primarily intended for tyros, the freshness and perceptiveness with which the author approaches his subject is also sure to please the old salts.”

Studia Celtica

“This thought-provoking study of Arthurian literature will ensure that we return to read the Welsh poems and stories with a more open mind than familiarity with them might sometimes tempt us to do.”

Notes and Queries

“ . . . learned and entertaining . . . Any scholar not already familiar with the Welsh material will find it an admirable introduction; it is to be hoped that the edition is large enough to make it as widely accessible as it deserves.”


“Although the title indicates that this is a book on Arthurian literature, any book on Arthur will have something to interest folklorists. This one, unlike so much which is published on this famous hero, is an excellent survey-cum-study, written with authority and assurance.”

Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie

“Few scholars could have undertaken the present work with more success. The volume has the distinction of imposing order on enormously diverse texts, genres, and periods and is additionally controlled by Padel’s judgement and fluid prose. It is never an entirely easy task for an expert in any field to change tone and level in order to write a book for non-experts. Padel has done so admirably in a work that is assured, accurate and eminently readable”

The Earliest Texts
Arthur's World: Culhwch and 'Pa wy yw'r porthor?'
Other Texts of the Central Middle Ages
Three Dialogue Poems
The Matter of Britain
The Continuing Tradition
Some Arthurian Characters
Was There an Arthur of the Welsh?
Select Bibliography
About the Author
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