Comparative lit: Star Wars as Irish epic

Eogan Aenfer. Or Jeanne Rynhart's Cuchulainn.In a galaxy far, far away, a young director created an epic that dominated the imaginations of generations. But what if Star Wars were based on earlier literary traditions? This week, I’m taking a look at the Tattoine Cycle: A New Hope re-imagined as an Irish epic.

I was pointed at the Irish retelling by the lovely Lynn. Like The Tattúínárdøla Saga, this is a labour of love by an awesome bloke (Tom O’Donnell) steeped in his subject, and includes footnotes to explain the mythic context and literary references.

The Tattoine Cycle

The Tattoine Cycle was originally written as a series of tweets, and unlikeThe Tattúínárdøla Saga focuses purely on Episode IV. My first challenge was pronunciation – my old Norse isn’t great, but it’s a lot better than my Gaelic – and familiarity with the source material didn’t always help: some names have been changed rather than transliterated (is it transliteration when you change a spelling to represent the pronunciation? It’s not, is it? Anyway, moving on…).

Thankfully, that’s where the footnotes come in. I rapidly discovered that Luke means white/bright in Greek, so he’s Finn here – which, in a world with The Force Awakens, comes complete with a whole new layer of amusing appropriateness (take that, haters).

Other details have been tweaked to fit into the epic context: the Death Star is a hostel, because those are – apparently – regular locations for villainy in Irish myth, and often run by blokes called Da Something (so: Da Thféider it is, then). Any additional creepiness courtesy of recent horror franchises is strictly a bonus.

The Cycle is appropriately referential, as all good Irish epics are built on the backs of others. This one borrows passages from existing epics to set the mood as well as the traditional mentions of works that went before: so Luke’s – sorry, Finn’s – blade is Caladbolg (don’t worry, it only matters that it’s a famous sword). I loved wildman Cenn Obi’s advice on presenting the blade to his young companion: This is a weapon from a better age. Do not point it at your face. I don’t recall Ben being quite that dismissive of Luke, but it works for me.

Overall, this is an entertaining exercise executed with great affection, if slightly less satisfying than the Tattúínárdøla Saga. Its origins on Twitter mean it’s short and sweet, and swaps tense all the time (which mildly irritated me). I did enjoy the random gender reversal (Leia at one point mimics one of Cú Chulainn’s feats), and Cenn Obi’s words on reaching Allt Da Rann is fabulously poetic. Forget the moon (although it’s not a moon) – They are not clouds, but the fierce and manly breathing and exhaling of Da Thféider’s men. Fierce and manly breathing, people.

It’s worth a look.