The Celts

Vencesclas Kruta, Editor, Miklos Szabo, Editor, Barry Raftery, Editor Rizzoli International Publications $85 (800p) ISBN 978-0-8478-1407-7
This massive project--140 essays, nearly 1000 color illustrations, covering 800 pages--is an invaluable compendium that issues a significant corrective to the story of the settling of Western Europe. The Celtic civilization, in the popular mind long identified with the insular peoples of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany, has for a good part of a century been known to have far deeper roots in the heart of Europe. But the Celtic ways--oral traditions without a written literature and a famous druidic secrecy--made substantiation of this fact difficult. Collected here are the fruits of archeological digs of the 20th century, which through comparison dating of carved objects, cemeteries, bogs and ironwork have demonstated conclusively that the Celtic civilization was indeed a major influence in the development of the continent. A rugged people given to warring and mercenary work, located in the northern and eastern Alps circa the sixth century B.C., the Celts moved through France, Italy, Africa and finally to Britannia. One discovers here that not until the 1940s was a specific category of Celtic art in pre-Roman continental Europe identified; a convincing case for the aesthetic vision of the Celtic community is made. Readers should be warned: the texts are not popular history or archeology; they are larded with the presumptions of a close-knit, scholarly audience. Nonetheless, the tremendous scope and comprehensiveness of this volume offers something for everyone interested in the Celtic tradition. There is even a chapter on bogs. Kruta is professor at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris; Frey at Philipps-Universitat, Marburg; Raftery at University College, Dublin; and Szabo at University of Budapest. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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