Thursday, November 27, 2014

Brittany - a cultural history

What is the new book about?  It's a personal reflection (affectionate but not uncritical) on Brittany's history and cultural development structured around elemental themes. Each theme takes four varied examples ranging all over Brittany. To illustrate: the chapter entitled SEA looks at a) threats from the sea over many centuries, b) legends connected with the sea, c) the adventurers of St Malo and d) the cod-fishers of Paimpol, the latter elevated to a bizarre super-hero status through popular literature. FOREST covers the history of the Foret de Fougères, the (fragile) association of the Foret de Paimpont with Arthurian tales, clog-making and the oral tradition in the Foret de Coatloc'h and manufactured claims of Druid blood sacrifice in the Foret de Cranou. Other chapters are STONE, MARCHES, LAND, COAST, RIVER, TOWN, MOOR and ISLAND.
The book tries to bring out the realities of Brittany - extraordinary enough in themselves - behind the clichés of touristic hype, with contemporary life featuring alongside the assessment of past highs and lows. It also intends to create a vivid physical sense of the land, sea and coast, which figure as major characters in the narrative. In common with the other studies in this series Landscapes of the Imagination, there is also an emphasis on culture, particularly the strong oral legacy of the Breton language.

Available now: published by Signal Books (

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