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Dissonant Neighbours compares early Welsh and English poetry up to c.1250, investigating why these two neighbouring literatures describe similar events in markedly different ways. Medieval Welsh and English texts were subject to many of the same Latin and French influences, and we see this in the stories told in the poetic traditions; comparing and contrasting the different approaches of Welsh and English poetry offers insight to the core narrative trends of both. How, where and why did early Welsh and English poets deploy narrative? These are key questions that this book seeks to answer, providing a groundbreaking new study which treats the Welsh and English poetry in an equal and balanced manner. It contributes to ongoing debates concerning multilingualism and the relationship between Welsh and English literature, dividing into four comparative chapters that contrast a wide range of early Welsh and English material, yielding incisive new readings in poetic tradition.
‘David Callander’s new book represents comparative literary study at its most illuminating. Remarkable for the elegance and subtlety of its readings and the rigour of its methods, Dissonant Neighbours will be essential reading for scholars of early Welsh and English poetry, and a model for future studies of premodern narrative.’
- Professor Emily V. Thornbury, Yale University
‘Dissonant Neighbours is the most sustained and cogent attempt I have seen to analyse the structure and diction of early Welsh poetry. This ambitious book provides new models for understanding the peculiar interpretative difficulties that confront all students of this literature. Its comparative perspective allows the early Welsh and English traditions to illuminate each other while avoiding the danger of treating one as a norm against which the other is judged.’
- Professor Barry Lewis, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
‘Here is a landmark in the study of early Welsh verse. David Callander is an outstanding critic who reveals aspects of poetic art hardly ever considered or even noticed; individual poems and genres are illuminated as never before. By setting Old and Middle English alongside the Welsh materials, and with a deft use of theory, he brings a fresh set of questions into play that will invigorate the field.’
- Professor Marged Haycock, Aberystwyth University
‘This wide-ranging comparative study offers a stimulating new approach to early narrative poetry, elucidating the distinctive features of the Welsh and English traditions by well-focused contrasts. It will make early Welsh poetry accessible to a new readership, and deserves the attention of anyone interested in the medieval literature of Britain.’
- Professor Dafydd Johnston, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies
'This book is a tremendous achievement. Through the application of brand new methodologies and incisive close reading, David Callander makes a groundbreaking contribution to the study of medieval literary culture. All scholars of early English and Welsh narrative will need to read his work.'
- Dr Richard Dance, University of Cambridge
Chapter 1: Battle
Chapter 2: Narrative at the End of the World
Chapter 3: Retelling Christ’s Birth and Early Life
Chapter 4: List and Narrative