The Tin

Ciaran Carson, Translator . Viking $24.95. (223p) ISBN 978-0-670-01868-0

Loosely translated as “The Cattle Raid of Cooley,” the Táin Bó Cúailnge is part of the 80-story, multiauthor Ulster Cycle, an Irish epic that dates to the eighth century. Rendered in laconic vernacular prose by veteran poet and translator Carson, The Táin (pronounced “toyne”) opens on the “pillow talk” of King Ailill of Connacht and his boastful wife, Queen Mebd. Reckoning that her husband has one greater asset than she, namely, the prize white-horned bull, Finnbennach, the queen enlists the entire army of Connacht to wage war against Cúailnge, a province of Ulster, in order to secure its fine brown bull. As the army moves into Ulster, it is led by Fergus, a former king of Ulster now in exile who remains sympathetic to the Ulster side and to his 17-year-old foster son, Cú Chulainn, whose youthful exploits Fergus recounts. Three-day hand-to-hand combat pits Cú Chulainn against his beloved foster-brother, Fer Diad Mac Damáin; at the climax, the white and brown bulls come face to face. The narrative revels in place names and their etymologies, telling story upon story. Carson’s version is a lively and vivid journey through a mythic landscape. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-14-045530-4
Hardcover - 223 pages - 978-0-7139-9966-2
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