'Cad Goddeu', 'the Battle of the Trees': texts and interpretations

Wagstaffe, Anne Elizabeth (2021) 'Cad Goddeu', 'the Battle of the Trees': texts and interpretations. Masters thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

'Cad Goddeu', ('The Battle of the Trees'), a poem attributed to the legendary Welsh bard Taliesin, is found in its earliest extant form in the fourteenth-century Welsh manuscript known as Llyfr Taliesin, (The Book of Taliesin). This dissertation asks how the poem has been recreated over time through a network of texts linked to the medieval manuscript by intricate patterns of translation and transmission. By drawing from theorists such as Gérard Genette in his work Palimpsests, texts and other variants of the poem are studied, and examples of intertextual connections are reviewed, dating from the nineteenth-century to the twenty-first. The dissertation examines the place of Llyfr Taliesin in Welsh literature and connections between 'Cad Goddeu' and other early texts. Translation is discussed and an analysis of the repeated appearance of four lines from the poem in various pieces of writing gives a detailed picture of the intertextuality surrounding the poem. Obscurity and difficulty are often associated with 'Cad Goddeu', and the meanings that these concepts can bring to poetry are shown. Robert Graves's book The White Goddess, published in 1948 has played an important role in bringing the poem to new audiences, and Graves's concept of 'analepsis' as an entry point to the past is compared to perceptions of the poem in contemporary society. New readings of 'Cad Goddeu' are made by actively searching in the work for themes of ecology, gender and identity, as each text can be read from a new perspective, new interpretations are always possible. The dissertation demonstrates the value of looking closely at variants of a given poem to understand how words and meaning are transmitted through associated palimpsestic texts, a methodology which can be usefully applied to future research in this area.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2022 13:58
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 13:58
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/2072

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