Playing the Hero: Reading the Táin Bó Cuailnge
Published: November 2019© 2005
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 250 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
250 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.70 in
In Playing the Hero, Ann Dooley examines the surviving manuscript versions of the greatest of the early Irish sagas, the Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle-Raid of Cooley), and creates a picture of the cultural conditions and literary mind-sets under which medieval scribes recreated the text. Dooley argues that the scribes' work is both a transmission and a translation, and that their own changing historical circumstances within the space of one hundred years, from the beginning to the end of the twelfth century, determines the specifics of their literary creativity.
Playing the Hero is a unique example of more contemporary literary methodologies – post-structuralist, feminist, historicist and beyond – being used to illuminate the Irish saga world. Dooley provides a commentary for the saga, helping to re-animate its literary sophistication. Her work is an interrogation of both the Irish epic hero – a reading of the male through the medium of feminine discourse – and the process whereby violence as normalized in the saga genre can be recovered as problematic and troubling. Dooley's work is groundbreaking and will provoke a wide response in Medieval Irish studies.
Playing Hero will reward those who persevere with an enhanced appreciation of aspects of medieval Ireland's best known literary charcter, Cú Chulanin, and the textual process that brought him into being. Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, Speculum, July 2009