Why did I love this book?
I’m fascinated by the ways in which Christian communities remember pre-Christian cultures. In Beowulf, for example, historians in medieval England incorporated Christian themes into a story that had emerged in pagan times on the other side of the North Sea. In Ireland, Christian historians were much less interested in sanctifying their own island’s pre-Christian myth. Instead, they recorded all kinds of stories with little effort to make them fit within a Christian worldview as if they took delight in pagan culture for its own sake. But what is the historical value of these stories?
In this outstanding book, J.P. Mallory reads early Irish literature as bearing witness to the material cultures of the early medieval period – and even the periods preceding it.