Page:EB1911 - Volume 05.djvu/675

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650
[BRETON LITERATURE
CELT


Gododin with Notes and Translation, ed. by T. Powel (London, 1888); R. Williams, Selections from the Hengwrt MSS. (2 vols., London, 1876–1892); T. Powel, Ystorya de Carolo Magno (London, 1883); Psalmau Dafydd trans. by W. Morgan (facsimile, 1896); Owen Jones (Myfyr) and W. Owen (Pughe), Barddoniaeth Dafydd ab Gwilym (London, 1789); Walter Davies and J. Jones, Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi (1837); Prince Louis Bonaparte, Athrawaeth Gristnogavl by Morys Clynoc (facsimile London, 1880); Walter Davies, Caniadau Huw Morus (2 vols., 1823); Psalmau Dafydd gan W. Middleton (Llanfair, 1827); J. Morris Jones, Gweledugaethai y Bardd cwsg gan Elis Wynne (Bangor, 1898); R. Jones, The Poetical Works of Goronwy Owen (2 vols. London, 1876); W.J. Gruffydd, Cywyddau Goronwy Owen (Newport, 1906); T. E. Ellis, Gweithiau Morgan Llwyd (Bangor, 1899); J. H. Davies, Yn y Llyvyr hwn (Bangor, 1902); S. J. Evans, Drych y Prif Oesoedd gan Th. Evans (Bangor, 1902); W. P. Williams, Deffyniad Ffydd Eglwys Loegr gan Morys Kyffin (Bangor, 1908); N. Cynhafal Jones, Gweithiau W. Williams Pantycelyn (2 vols., 1887–1891); O. M. Edwards, Gweithiau Islwyn (1897).  (W. J. G.) 

V. Breton Literature.—Unlike the literature of Wales, the literature of Brittany is destitute of originality, and we find nothing to compare with the Mabinogion. Till the 19th century all the monuments which have come down to us are copies of French models, though the retention down to the 17th century of that intricate system of versification found in Welsh and Cornish may indicate that what was really Breton in spirit has not been preserved (v. J. Loth, La Métrique galloise, ii. 177-203). It is usual to divide the literature into three periods in conformity with the language in which the monuments are written—Old, Middle, and Modern Breton. No connected monuments of the first period (8th to 11th centuries) have come down to us. For our knowledge of the language of this period we must have recourse to the manuscripts containing glosses and the names occurring in ancient documents. The chief collections of glosses are (1) the Oxford glosses on Eutychius; (2) the Luxemburg glosses; (3) the Bern glosses on Virgil; (4) the glosses on Amalarius (Corpus Christi, Cambridge); (5) five Collationes Canonum, the chief manuscripts being at Paris and Orleans. All these glosses have been published in one volume by J. Loth (Vocabulaire Vieux-Breton, Paris, 1884). From a linguistic point of view the Breton names in the Latin lives of saints are very important, particularly those of St Samson, St Paul, Aurelian, St Winwaloe, St Ninnoc, St Gildas and St Brieuc. Of even greater value are the names in the Charter of Redon, which was written in the 11th century, but dates largely from the 9th (published by A. de Courson, 1865); we may also mention the Charter of Landevennec (11th century). In the Middle Breton period, which extends from the 11th to the 17th centuries, we are obliged, down to the 15th century, to rely on official documents such as the Charter of Quimperlé. French seems to have been the language of the aristocracy and the medium of culture. Hence the oldest connected texts are either translated or imitated from French, and are full of French words. We might mention a Book of Hours belonging to the 16th century, published by Whitley Stokes, and three religious poems bound up with the Grand Mystère de Jésus; further, the Life of St Catherine (1576) in prose (published by Ernault, Revue celtique, viii. 76), translated from the Golden Legend, the Mirror of Death, containing 3360 verses, which was composed in 1519 and printed in 1576, the Mirror of Confession, a translation from the French in prose (1621), the Christian Doctrine, a translation in verse (1622), a collection of carols (An Nouelou ancien, 1650, Rev. celt. vols. x.-xiii.) and the Christian Meditations of J. Cadec, 1651 (Rev. Celt. xx. 56). The earliest Breton printed work is the Catholicon of Jean Lagadeuc, a Breton-Latin-French dictionary, dated 1464 but printed first in 1499 (reprinted by R.F. Le Men, Lorient, 1867). Modern Breton begins with the orthographical reforms of the Jesuit, Julien Maunoir, whose grammar (Le Sacré Collège de Jésus) and dictionary appeared in 1659. Throughout the modern period we find numerous collections of religious poems and manuals of devotion in prose and verse, which we cannot here attempt to enumerate. But the bulk of Breton literature before the 19th century consists of mysteries and miracle plays. This class of literature had a tremendous vogue in Brittany, and the native stage was only killed about 1850. It is stated, for instance, that no less than 15,000 copies were sold of the Tragedy of the Four Sons of Aymon, first published in 1815. It is impossible to give the titles of all the dramas which have come down to us (about 120). The manuscript collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris is described in the Revue celtique, xi. 389-423 (many since published) and Le Braz gives a useful list of other manuscripts in the bibliographical appendix to his Théâtre celtique. A few of these plays belong to the Middle Breton period. The Life of St Nonn, the mother of St David, belongs to the end of the 15th century, and follows the Latin life (published by Ernault in the Revue celtique, viii. 230 ff., 405 ff.). Le Grand Mystère de Jésus (1513) follows the French play of Arnoul Gresban and Jean Michel (published by H. de la Villemarqué, Paris, 1865). A French original is also followed in the Mystère de Sainte Barbe (1st ed., 1557, 2nd ed., 1647, reprinted by Ernault, Nantes, 1885). These mystery plays may be divided into four categories according to the subjects with which they deal: (1) Old Testament subjects; (2) New Testament subjects; (3) lives of saints; (4) romances of chivalry. There is occasionally a dash of local colouring in these plays; but the subject matter is taken from French sources or, in the case of the third category, from Latin lives. Even when the life of a Breton saint, e.g. St Gwennolé, is dramatized, the treatment is the traditional one accorded to all saints of whatever origin. Amongst the most favourite subjects in addition to those already mentioned we may note the following: Vie des quatre fils Aymon, Ste Tryphine et le roi Arthur, Huon de Bordeaux, Vie de Louis Eunius, Robert le Diable. These mysteries commonly contain from 5000 to 9000 lines of either 12 or 8 syllables apiece. For the sake of completeness we may add the names of three farces, described by Le Braz: Ar Farvel goapaer (Le bouffon moqueur), Ian Melargé (Mardi-gras), La Vie de Mardi-gras, de triste Mine, sa femme, et de ses enfants. The actors, who were always peasants, came to be regarded with an unfavourable eye by the clergy, who finally succeeded in killing the Breton stage.

We look in vain for any manifestation of originality in Breton literature until we reach the 19th century. The consciousness of nationality then awakened and found expression in verse.

The movement led by Le Gonidec (described above in the section on Breton language) caused ardent patriots to endeavour to create a national literature, more especially when the attention of the whole world of letters was directed to Brittany after the publication of the Barzas Breiz. The most prominent of these pioneers were Auguste Brizeux, F. M. Luzel and Prosper Proux. Brizeux (1803–1858), better known as a French poet, wrote a collection of lyrics entitled Telen Arvor, or the Armorican Harp (Lorient, 1844, reprinted Paris, 1903). Luzel’s original compositions were published under the title of Bepred Breizad, Toujours Breton (Morlaix, 1865), and Prosper Proux is known as the author of Canaouenno grét gant eur C’hernewod (1838) and Ar Bombard Kerne, or The Hautboy of Cornouailles (Guingamp, 1866). Dottin also mentions Telenn Remengol, by J. Lescour (Brest, 1867); Telenn Gwengam, by the same writer (Brest, 1869), a volume of Chansoniou by Y.M. Thomas (Lannion, 1870), and another by C. Rannou. This was a very creditable beginning, but the themes of these writers are apt to be somewhat conventional and the constant recurrence of the same situation or the same idea grows monotonous. An anthology of poems connected with this movement appeared at Quimperlé in 1862 under the title of Bleuniou Breiz, Poésies anciennes et modernes de la Basse-Bretagne (reprinted, Paris, 1905). Several of La Fontaine’s fables were published in a Breton dress by P.D. de Goesbriand (Morlaix, 1836), and a collection of fables in verse which is thought very highly of by cultivated Bretons appeared under the title of Marvaillou Grac’h koz by G. Milin (Brest, 1867). A book of Georgics in the dialect of Vannes appeared under the title of Levr al labourer (The Farmer’s Book) by l’Abbé Guillome (Vannes, 1849), and Le Gonidec prepared a translation of the Scriptures, which was revised by Troude and Milin, and published at St Brieuc in 1868. But the real literature of Brittany consists of legends, folk-tales and ballads. The first to tap this source was