Publication date:02 March 2015
Length of book:576 pages
PublisherUniversity of Exeter Press
In 2000, a sixteenth-century manuscript containing a copy of a previously unknown play in Middle Cornish, probably composed in the second half of the fifteenth century, was discovered among papers bequeathed to the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
This eagerly awaited edition of the play, published in association with the National Library of Wales, offers a conservatively edited text with a facing-page translation, and a reproduction of the original text at the foot of the page – vital for comparative purposes. Also included are a complete vocabulary, detailed linguistic notes, and a thorough introduction dealing with the language of the play, the hagiographic background of the St Kea material and the origins of other parts in the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth.
The theme of the play is the contention between St Kea, patron of Kea parish in Cornwall, and Teudar, a local tyrant. This is combined with a long section dealing with the dispute over tribute payments between King Arthur and the Emperor Lucius Hiberius; Queen Guinevere’s adultery with Arthur’s nephew Modred; the latter’s invitation to Cheldric and his Saxon hordes to come to Britain to assist him in his conflict with his uncle; and Arthur’s battle with Modred.
Winner of the 2008 Holyer An Gof Award for Cornish language publications.
At the turn of the millennium an announcement was made which astonished and delighted those interested in Cornish language and literature - a manuscript containing a hitherto unknown play in Middle Cornish has come to light. Academics and enthusiasts avidly seized on the text, and one of the results was the publication in 2007 of Bewnans Ke / The Life of St Kea, edited to critical acclaim by the Celtic scholars Graham Thomas and Nicholas Williams.
[...] the Thomas/Williams edition seemed set to become the standard printed text. It is this text which has now been reissued in an attractive and convenient paperback version, and it is to be hoped that the much lower price will encourage more people to study and enjoy this fascinating play.
This edition of Bewnans Ke provides a reliable text together with a guide through its many difficulties. The play is an essential addition to the resources of any student of Cornish language and literature.