Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tre Gwernin: "Medieval Welsh storytelling for the modern age"

G. R. Grove corrected my post yesterday on D. J. Williams which segued into Welsh princes that I erred in Llewelyn the Last's death; I realize that I erred when I consulted Peter Sager's "Pallas Wales." On the same page Sager had discussed the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. But, the true prince of Wales died at the end of 1282, and Dafydd III soon after in what must have been a cruel winter.

(Note the footnote below for a serendipitous tie between Llewelyn and today's blog illustration.)

I googled my blog's URL today, curious, to see a mention for Tre Gwernin-- which in my infant Cymraeg means the likes of House of Gwernin-- who's the protagonist of GRG's tales. And, investigating the link, who do I find but the same G. R. Grove? Denver-based, author of two books-- information at the website, of course-- and an "amateur historian," I happily note.

The site, in addition to Grove's own work, contains reading lists and scholarly archives on not only Welsh but a few Scottish and even an Anglo-Saxon word-hoard. The SCA also earns its own signposts. Society for Creative Anachronism for those non-medievalists in the crowd. I told my wife that she should follow the lead of a blogger whom GRG may already know well, Welsh- and Irish-speaking Oxford don-in-training and new Ph.D. Bo over at "The Expvlsion of the Blatant Beast." It's a featured link from my blog home page. Bo through Google Analytics traced readership of his Blogspot. Not sure if I can repeat his feat; he composed a poem in Sindarin, after all.

Neither of us at CasaMurphy can boast the reach of our more academic, prolific, or erudite bardic colleagues. Our conjugal aspirations at present about Welsh matters total the desire to craft a choice rejoinder for my wife to repel the fierce commands of her stereotypical gym coach, daughter of Cardiff bakers, moonlighting in L.A. as P.E. coach. But I do share the delight of such as Bo and GRG in spreading so much knowledge and lore about Celtic, medieval, and/or medievalist pursuits. Proof that the life of the mind and the nourishment of the spirit can persist outside the shelves of ye olde New Age magick shoppes, tenured lairs of theorists, and those nutcases you hope don't sit next to you on the bus.

I want to mention another couple who have added much not only on the Web but to our world. They too are linked at the right on my blog homepage. The Blanket has been revived for a periodical if no longer bi-monthly shaking out, and now its co-editor has "The Pensive Quill" for his own musings on issues related to a different Celtic domain, that of the Virtual Republic amidst the partially realized Irish entity.

GRG's a generous sort, too, in the best spirit of the Web. Creative Commons licenses allow dissemination of the books Storyteller and Flight of the Hawk. They can be obtained in hard copy from Lulu; I bought Garry Bannister's trio of Gaelic Idioms, Irish Proverbs, and Essential Irish from that publishing co-operative. While the last Bannister book did have some pages printed badly and out of margins, on the whole, given the price, the costs were fair considering the expense for such titles with a limited readership, compared to standard presses. The large format was attractive but this may have caused the glitch; at Oideas Gael the Essential Irish book had been sold but in a far smaller pocket-sized edition for 10 euro.

Back to GRG, why not visit this treasure trove for yourself? I added TG on the right side. Scanning the Tre Gwernin site, I see my blog linked, and dutifully return the favor on my own today.

Image credit: link from Tre Gwernin to Digital Library of Wales. Peniarth MS 28 f5r, Nat'l Library of Wales. "The pencynydd, chief huntsman, with his horn; a kissing couple, a scene suggested by the nature of the duties of the officials mentioned in the next section - the servant and maidservant of the chamber."
Here's Daniel Lews comment at the Digital Library about this MS.:
"[...]this was the very copy of the law of Hywel which was cited by John Pecham, archbishop of Canterbury, when he wrote his denunciatory letter to Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, last of the independent princes of Wales, in November 1282."


G R Grove said...

Hi Fionnchu - stopped by again and was pleasantly surprised! One quick clarification - the blog is called Tre GwerNin - "Gwernin's Home" - not Tre Gwerin. (This results in a 404 error on your side-bar link, btw). Gwernin is the ficticious narrator of my two books, and (under a slightly different spelling) the name I use in the SCA (which I'm glad to see you didn't go ballistic about, unlike some academics ;-).

The Sanger book sounds interesting. Amazon has recommended it to me in the past, but I didn't realize it was in this much depth. May have to get a copy (so many books, so few bookcases...)


G R Grove said...

P S - I hadn't run across Bo before but I see I'll have to add him to my list - something else to do rather than what I'm supposed to be doing! ;-)