In recent years Brendan's voyage has become increasingly popular as a topic of interest, not only in medieval studies, but also within the history of travel literature in general. One of the legend's charms is that it can be read in a number of ways: as a thinly disguised account of Irish travels and discoveries in the Atlantic, as a seafaring story in the fashion of the Irish immrama (literally 'rowings out'), or as an allegorical tale of Man's journey through life. It also has links with the monastic culture of its day, and contains echoes of the Odyssey and the Aeneid, Sinbad the Sailor and the quest for the Holy Grail.Barron and Burgess's volume collects the most important versions of the voyage from a wide variety of cultures, and presents them in modern English translations together with a general introduction to Brendan, explanatory commentaries and an extensive bibliography.This new paperback edition also includes a comprehensive index of story-elements specially devised with the Brendan student in mind to allow easy comparison of the different versions.
This collection of translations will allow diffusion of the different versions of that legend to a wide audience… One of the great stories of the Middle Ages, the Voyage of Saint Brendan will now be as easily available as other classic journey tales.
For medieval scholars, and for non-medievalist scholars concerned with the broad reach of utopianism (in Ireland and more broadly), this book is a rich depository of information and insight.
Utopian Studies, Vol. 14, no. 1
In addition to the translations, the volume also contains useful introductory commentaries to each of the versions by the translators … The valuable introductions present to the reader the current scholarship on the authorship, manuscripts, genre, and sources of each version and are extremely useful to both the scholar and student of the Brendan by Burgess and an extensive bibliography of both criticism and manuscripts.
Medium Ævum, Vol. LXXIII
The editors of this excellent volume, of interest to scholars in a number of fields, stress how, in recasting the original Brendan material, the writers of vernacular medieval versions of the legend seized the opportunity to explore the culture and spiritual needs of their own age.
The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, Volume 64
Barron, Burgess, and their collaborators have assembled a very handy introduction to the Brendan legend, and, fortunately, at a modest price. For those interested in saints' lives or the literature of travel and marvels, it is a book worth owning.
Sixteenth Century Journal Vol. XXXVIII/3