The Voyage Of St Brendan
Representative Versions of the Legend in English Translation
Edited by W.R.J. Barron and Glyn S. Burgess
Subjects: Medieval Studies
In recent years Brendan's voyage has become increasingly popular as a topic of interest, not only in medieval studies, but also within the history of travel literature in general. One of the legend's charms is that it can be read in a number of ways: as a thinly disguised account of Irish travels and discoveries in the Atlantic, as a seafaring story in the fashion of the Irish immrama (literally 'rowings out'), or as an allegorical tale of Man's journey through life. It also has links with the monastic culture of its day, and contains echoes of the Odyssey and the Aeneid, Sinbad the Sailor and the quest for the Holy Grail.
Barron and Burgess's volume collects the most important versions of the voyage from a wide variety of cultures, and presents them in modern English translations together with a general introduction to Brendan, explanatory commentaries and an extensive bibliography.
Contents: 1 The Life and Legend of Saint Brendan Glyn S. Burgess; 2 The Latin Version John H. O'Meara and Jonathan M. Wooding; 3 The Anglo-Norman Version Glyn S. Burgess; 4 The Dutch Version Willem P. Gerritsen and Peter K. King; 5 The German Version Willem P. Gerritsen and Clara Strijbosch; 6 The Venetian Version Mark Davie; 7 The Occitan Version Margaret Burrell; 8 The Catalan Version Margaret Burrell; 9 The Norse Version Andrew Hamer; 10 English Versions - The South English Legendary Version; - Caxton's Golden Legend Version; W.R.J. Barron; Bibliography and List of Brendan Manuscripts
“This collection of translations will allow diffusion of the different versions of that legend to a wide audience… One of the great stories of the Middle Ages, the Voyage of Saint Brendan will now be as easily available as other classic journey tales” (Mystics Quaterly) “In addition to the translations, the volume also contains useful introductory commentaries to each of the versions by the translators … The valuable introductions present to the reader the current scholarship on the authorship, manuscripts, genre, and sources of each version and are extremely useful to both the scholar and student of the Brendan by Burgess and an extensive bibliography of both criticism and manuscripts.” (Medium Ævum, Vol. LXXIII, 2004) “The editors of this excellent volume, of interest to scholars in a number of fields, stress how, in recasting the original Brendan material, the writers of vernacular medieval versions of the legend seized the opportunity to explore the culture and spiritual needs of their own age.” (The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, Volume 64 (2002) 2003) ‘One of the great stories of the Middle Ages, the Voyage of Saint Brendan will now be as easily available as other classic journey tales’ (Mystics Quaterly) ‘For medieval scholars, and for non-medievalist scholars concerned with the broad reach of utopianism (in Ireland and more broadly), this book is a rich depository of information and insight.’ (The Voyage of St. Brendan: Representative of the Legend in English Translation Utopian Studies Vol 14 no 1 2003) ‘Baron, Burgess, and their collaborators have assembled a very handy introduction to the Brendan legend, and, fortunately, at a modest price. For those interested in saints’ lives or the literature of travel and marvels, it is a book worth owning.’ (Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. XXXVIII, no. 3, 2007)
The late W.R.J. Barron was Senior Research Fellow in the School of English, University of Exeter. He was President of the International Arthurian Society (British Branch) and Director of its Vinaver Trust. His books include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Manchester, 1998) and Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, Vol. II (series editor)(Wales, 1999).