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From the Note on the Text:
The Irish epic presented here, the Táin Bó Cúailnge, is arguably the greatest of all time, being so deep in scope and possessing what so many others lack that it really is in a class of its own. In his 1969 translation of the Táin the late Thomas Kinsella (1928–2021) remarked: “I emerged with the conviction that Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne […] gave the best idea of the Ulster stories,” and on the work of Lady Gregory (1852–1932) is this one based. A considerable reworking was necessary due in part to the 1902 date of publication and related issues that confuse or grind down readers, but changes were made solely to minimize repetitions and obscurities, and no other will compare in readability and breadth. The text was toned down enormously by Lady Gregory in terms of sexuality and unadulterated filth (the details of which are elsewhere), but make no mistake: few books rival the violence herein, and the Táin is not a bedtime story. Where this edition excels is in the arrangement: the narrative usually begins with the cattle heist (or Táin), and the background of Cúchulainn is relayed through flashbacks. Here, the story is (mostly) chronological, and the Táin is a lengthy section (the lengthiest) in the middle (xvi). Both it and what surrounds it were continuously revised for a millennium, what does and does not belong is a matter of dispute, and woven in for spoils is no small amount from other mythological cycles, which is what makes it so rich, impervious to perfection it stays. But in a different way Lady Gregory also made it more innocent than it is, so what may seem peripheral or playful, mind you, is nothing of the sort. Prophecy is the word, and if the reader is disoriented at any point, they will be less so in retrospect, but at a distance, since what we have here is a real literary puzzle. A great one—with multi-dimensional otherworlds, non-stop magic, Bronze Age heroism in raw form, allusions to stir the most stunted senses, and a crowded field you can’t keep track of. The Táin is one thing, true as they come, an epic.