This book offers a comprehensive introduction to the Fenian (Ossianic) cycle, centred on the great Irish hero Finn mac Cumaill and his band of heroes (the fian). Sifting through both medieval and folk versions of stories having to do with Finn's origins and daring youthful exploits, Professor Nagy explores the mythological dimensions of this complex figure, the cultural implications of the life of hunting, fighting, and poetizing in the wilderness that Finn and his men lead, and the significance of their frequent encounters with the otherworld. Contributing to Celtic, folklore, and medieval studies, the book delves deeply into the mysterious world of one of the most enduring figures in Irish and Scottish narrative tradition.
This revised edition takes into account more recent scholarship on a wide range of medieval Irish topics and evaluates the new critical perspectives on the Fenian tradition that The wisdom of the outlaw upon its original publication in 1985 helped to foster.
Joseph F. Nagy is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specializes in medieval Celtic literature. He is the author of the award-winning Conversing with angels and saints: the literary myths of medieval Ireland (1998) and the editor of the CSANA Yearbook.