The Legend of St Brendan
The Legend of St Brendan is a study of two accounts of a voyage undertaken by Brendan, a sixth-century Irish saint. The immense popularity of the Latin version encouraged many vernacular translations, including a twelfth-century Anglo-Norman reworking of the narrative which excises much of the devotional material seen in the ninth-century Navigatio Sancti Brendani abbatis and changes the emphasis, leaving a recognisably secular narrative. The vernacular version focuses on marvellous imagery and the trials and tribulations of a long sea-voyage. Together the two versions demonstrate a movement away from hagiography towards adventure.
Studies of the two versions rarely discuss the elements of the fantastic. Following a summary of authorship, audiences and sources, this comparative study adopts a structural approach to the two versions of the Brendan narrative. It considers what the fantastic imagery achieves and addresses issues raised with respect to theological parallels.