Category: Books

Bronwen Martin – Semiotics and Storytelling

This is a really good introduction to the skills needed to analyse the myths and legends.  Bronwen has taken the often obscure, jargon filled, texts of semiotics – the science of meaning to craft a very accessible introduction to this important field.  She takes the myth of Philomel and then demonstrates the semiotic tools in action in illuminating a text through three levels of interpretation – the figurative, the narrative and the deep mythic.  At each level she skilfully illustrates semiotics in action.  Bronwen has been a frequent attendee and presenter at the Bard Summer School.

Peter O’Connor – Beyond the Mist

This book is an outline of the meaning of the Irish myths as a wisdom tradition of relevance to us today in contemporary life.  Peter stresses that to navigate a path into the labyrinth that is this tradition, it is important to stay anchored in your own ‘ground’.  In the case of Peter this is the field of psychoanalysis and archetypal psychology so popularised by Freud, Jung Hillman and Campbell.  He argues that ‘psychology needs re-mythologising’ as he goes about his task of mythology being psychoanalysed.  This book is an essential read for anyone interested in the relevance of mythology to a troubled modernity.

Myles Dillon – The Cycles of the Kings

This is a summary of the literature of the Kings – sometimes called the Historical Cycle.  These tales are in no way as well known as those of the Ulster (CúChulain) and Fenian (Finn) Cycles.  Maybe it is that a colonised country will tend not to tell King tales.  And for this reason this book and the stories very much deserve to be read, enjoyed, absorbed and told in a world wondering about leadership, and the so called elite in culture.

Marie-Louise Sjoestedt – Gods and Heroes of the Celts

This is the last work of a brilliant French scholar who particularly outlines academic background to the Gods and Goddesses and the Chieftain Gods.  Of particular importance is her distinction between the Heroes of the Tribe (CúChulain) and Heroes outside the Tribe (Finn and the Fianna).

Jeffrey Gantz (Translator) – Early Irish Myths and Sagas

This is a selection of translations of the early Irish Stories by a scholar whose purpose was to remain faithful to the original and yet write in an accessible and evocative way.  The challenge being to work with language to evoke the mythical time, holding the tension between fantasy and reality and articulating a world in which man and god move freely in and out of each other’s space.

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