Astudiaeth llawn darluniau o'r chwedlau a'r straeon yn ymwneud â Myrddin, dewin a duw, yn cynnwys lluniau o fannau, arteffactau ac arlunwaith yn gysylltiedig ag ef trwy'r gwledydd Celtaidd, yn arbennig ei berthynas â natur y tirwedd yng Nghymru. 17 ffotograff lliw, 72 ffotograff du-a-gwyn, a 5 map.
An illustrated study of the myths and legends relating to Merlin, magician and god, including illustrations of sites, artefacts and artwork relating to him throughout the Celtic countries, particularly how he relates to the nature of the Welsh landscape. 17 colour, 72 black-and-white photographs, and 5 maps.
Merlin is perhaps the most elusive figure in Welsh or British history: seer and enchanter, sage and madman, poet and demi-god, courtier and wild man. Traces of his name are to be found in place names in Wales, Cumbria and Cornwall, often closely linked with that other mysterious figure, Arthur.
This beautifully designed and illustrated book guides the reader through the many versions of the story of Merlin, beginning with the tale of the omniscient boy, a wonder-child who discovers the Red Dragon and the White (symbols of the Britons and the Saxon invaders) under Vortigerns collapsing fortress and then taking us into Egyptian and Roman legends where the tales may have had their origins. Always Merlin is a maverick, a subversive, a trespasser on the territory of reason and authority, and herein lies much of his appeal.
Michael Dames, formerly a lecturer in the History of Art at Birmingham Polytechnic, explores just about every place and artefact said to be connected with Merlin, but concentrates on the Welsh associations for most of the time. The Welsh sources (which I presume the author read in translation) are given proper attention and there are knowledgeable accounts of the traces of Merlin in Eryri (Snowdonia) and Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen), the latter having been named, according to tradition, after him. What he does not appreciate, however, is that many of the place names which incorporate the name Myrddin (or cognates) are, in fact, onomastic and therefore not reliable evidence for the ubiquity of the wizard.
Some of the authors excursions into the arcana of Merlin lore strike me as a bit far-fetched: for example, there is a photograph of the traffic roundabout where Merlins Oak once stood and where, according to the caption, his ghost still hovers. There is also a shot of Fern Hill, the farm which once belonged to relatives of Dylan Thomas, where the guard-dogs are said to be reincarnations of y filiast, the immortal greyhound bitch. There is also an unexplained picture of a frowning T. Gwynn Jones being chaired (in a field) by a deliciously lugubrious bunch of bards at the National Eisteddfod of 1902.
The reader should not be put off by such baloney. This is a readable book if you bear in mind that much is conjecture or based on dodgy sources. The pictures are very nice and it will make an impressive addition to the coffee-table.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatad Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.