Archive for the ‘The High Deeds of Finn MacCool’ Category

Portrait of historical novelist and children’s author Rosemary Sutcliff by Mark Gerson

Always at the same writing desk, seated in an old captain’s chair, Rosemary Sutcliff imagined a rich cast of characters to people her historical novels. But many of her works also draw heavily on legend. In her first published book in 1950, she re-worked her  Chronicles of Robin Hood. The best-selling Sword at Sunset in 1963, written for adults, re-made the story of King Arthur. Later in her writing career, she created a trilogy of books aimed at children and young people retelling the tale of Arthur again—The Light Behind the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail (1979), The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1981), and The Road to Camlann: The Death of King Arthur (1981). She  also wrote novels re-making the stories of Beowulf, Tristan and Iseult, and the Irish heroes Finn Mac Cool and Cuchulain, The Hound of Ulster, as well as re-telling Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey


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Illustration from From The Author's Note to The High Deeds of Finn MacCool by Rosemary Sutcliff

The stories of Finn Mac Cool belong…not to Epic, but to Folklore and Fairytale; and only here and there … something of the Hero Tale remains.

… The stories of the Fianna are full of loose ends and contradictions, and unexplained wisps of strangeness that seem to have drifted in for no especial reason except that they are curious or beautiful and happened to be floating by.

They are stories made simply for the delight of story-making, and I have retold them in the same spirit – even adding a flicker or a flourish of my own from time to time – as everyone who has retold them in the past thousand years or so has done before me.

Source: Author’s Note to The High Deeds of Finn MacCool

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