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CORNISH LITERATURE]
651
CELT

Hersart de la Villemarqué (1815–1895), who issued in 1839 his famous collection of ballads entitled Barzas Breiz, but which cannot be regarded as an anthology of Breton popular poetry. The publication of this work gave rise to a controversy which is almost as famous as that caused by Macpherson’s forgeries. De la Villemarqué was endowed with considerable poetic gifts, and, coming as he did at a time when folk-poetry was the fashion, he determined to collect the popular literature of his own country. However, he was not content to publish the poems as he found them circulating in Brittany. With the aid of several collaborators he transformed his material, eliminating anything that was crude and gross. The poems included in his collection may be divided into three classes: (1) Poems rearranged by himself or others. These consist mainly of love-songs and ballads. (2) Modern poems transferred to medieval times. (3) Spurious poems dealing with such personages as Nominoe and Merlin. The compiler of the Barzas Breiz unfortunately laboured under the delusion that these Breton folk-songs were in the first instance the work of medieval bards corresponding to Taliessin and Llywarch Hen in Wales, and that it was possible to make them appear in their primitive dress. The very title of the collection indicates the artificial nature of the contents. For Barzas (in the 2nd edition of 1867 spelt Barzaz) is not a Breton word at all but is formed on Welsh barddas (bardic poems). For the whole controversy the reader may consult H. Gaidoz and P. Sébillot, “Bibliographie des traditions et de la littérature populaire de la Bretagne” (Revue celtique, v. 277 ff., and G. Dottin in the Revue de synthèse historique, viii. 95 ff.). In Brittany it is usual to divide the popular poetry into gwerziou and soniou. The gwerziou (complaintes) deal with local history, folk-lore, religious legends and superstitions, and are in general much more original than the other class. The soniou consist of love-songs, satires, carols and marriage-lays, as well as others dealing with professional occupations, and seem in many cases to show traces of French influence. The first scholar who published the genuine ballad literature of Brittany was F.M. Luzel, who issued two volumes under the title of Gwerziou Breiz-Izel, chants populaires de la Basse-Bretagne (Lorient and Paris, 1868, 1874). This collection contains several of the originals of poems in the Barzas Breiz. Luzel is also the author of a collection of Breton tales in French translation, Contes bretons recueillis et traduits par F.M. Luzel (Quimperlé, 1870). The same author published Les Légendes chrétiennes de la Basse-Bretagne (Paris, 1881) and Veillées bretonnes, moeurs, chants, contes et récits populaires des Bretons-Armoricains (Morlaix, 1879). Another indefatigable collector of Breton legends is Anatole le Braz, who was commissioned by the minister of public instruction to investigate the stories current with reference to An Ankou (death). Le Braz’s results are to be found in his La Légende de la mort (1902²). A well-known collection of stories with a French translation was issued by the lexicographer Troude under the title of Ar marvailler brezounek (Brest, 1870), and one of the most popular books at the present day is Pipi Gonto, by A. le Moal (St Brieuc, vol. i. 1902, vol. ii. 1908). A recent collection of stories with a religious tendency is C. M. le Prat’s Marvailhou ar Vretoned (Brest, 1907). The modern movement, which started in the ’nineties of last century, has already produced numerous dramas and volumes of lyrics, and it may now be affirmed in all seriousness that Brittany is producing something really national. The scope of the writers of the earlier movement was very limited and little originality was displayed in their productions. The literary output of the last ten years in Brittany may truly be termed prodigious, and much of it reaches quite a high level. The dramas which are being produced are mainly propagandist in the interests either of the Union Régionaliste Bretonne or of temperance reform. These are for the most part very crude, but they have been received with great enthusiasm, and this has led to the revival of the old mysteries, though in a somewhat modified form. The foremost living writer is Fanch Jaffrennou, who writes under the name of “Taldir” (Brow of Steel) and is the author of two very striking volumes of lyrics—An Hirvoudou or Sighs (St Brieuc, 1899) and An Delen Dir or The Harp of Steel (St Brieuc, 1900). The latter is the most interesting outcome of the modern movement. Among other poets we may mention N. Quellien (Annaïk, Paris, 1880; Breiz, Poésies bretonnes, Paris, 1898), Erwan Berthou (Dre an Delen hag ar c’horn-boud, Par la harpe et par le cor de guerre, St Brieuc, 1904), C. M. le Prat, who writes under the name of Klaoda (Mouez Reier Plougastel, “The Voice of the Cliffs of Plougastel,” St Brieuc, 1905), J. Cuillandre (Mouez an Aochou, La Voix des grèves, Rennes, 1903), abbé Lec’hvien, Gwerziou ha soniou (St Brieuc, 1900), and, further, two anonymous volumes of verse, An Tremener, Gwerziou ha soniou (Brest, 1900), and Kanaouennou Kerne (Brest, 1900). Two older collections are mentioned by Dottin—J. Cadiou, En Breiz-Izel (Morlaix, 1885) and Ivona (Morlaix, 1886). An anthology of latter-day lyrics appeared at Rennes in 1902 under the title of Bleuniou Breiz-Izel, Dibab Barzoniezou. Of the numerous plays those most deserving of mention from a literary point of view are perhaps Ar Vezventi by T. le Garrec; the comedy Alanik al Louarn by J. M. Perrot (Brest, 1905) based on the farce of Pathelin; Tanguy Malmanche, Le Conte de l’âme qui a faim, in which Breton superstitions connected with the spirits of the dead are introduced with strange effect; J. le Bayon, En Eutru Keriolet (Vannes, 1902), which deals with the life and death of a blaspheming Breton nobleman of the early part of the 17th century; F. Jaffrennou, Pontkallek (Brest, 1903), which tells of the betrayal of a noble Breton who was put to death by the French in 1720; and the farce Eur Pesk-Ebrel by L. Rennadis (Morlaix, 1900).

Authorities.—A history of Breton literature does not exist, though we possess ample materials for such a work. The following works and articles may be consulted: G. Dottin. Revue de synthèse historique, viii, 93-104, contains a full bibliography; J. Loth, Chrestomathie bretonne (Paris, 1890); L. C. Stern in Die Kultur d. Gegenwart, i. xi. 1, pp. 132-137; A. le Braz, Le Théâtre celtique (Paris, 1904); H. Gaidoz and P. Sébillot, “Bibliographie des traditions et de la littérature populaire de la Bretagne” (Revue celtique, v. 277-338; supplement by P. Sébillot, Revue de Bretagne, de Vendée, et d’Anjou, 1894); F. M. Luzel, “Formules initiates et finales des conteurs en Basse-Bretagne” (Revue celtique, iii. 336 ff.); L.F. Sauvé, “Formulettes et traditions diverses de la Basse-Bretagne” (Revue celtique, v. 157 ff.); Charmes, “Oraisons et conjurations magiques,” ib vi. 66 ff.; “Devinettes bretonnes,” ib. iv 60 ff.; “Proverbes et dictons de la Basse-Bretagne,” ib. i-iii. For Breton proverbs see also A. Brizeux, “Furnez Breiz,” in Œuvres de A. Brizeux (Paris, 1903); J. Loth, “Chansons en bas-vannetais” (Revue celtique, vii. 171 ff.); N. Quellien, Chansons et danses des Bretons (Paris, 1889); E. Ernault, “Chansons populaires” (Revue celtique, xxiii. 121 ff.); P. le Roux, “Une Chanson bretonne du xviiie siècle” (Revue celtique, xix. 1). Since 1901 a complete bibliography of modern works pertaining to Breton language and literature appears from time to time in the Annales de Bretagne.  (E. C. Q.) 

VI. Cornish Literature.—The literature of Cornwall is more destitute of originality and more limited in scope than that of Brittany, and it is remarkable that the medieval drama should occupy the most prominent place in both. The earliest Cornish we know consists of proper names and a vocabulary. About 200 Cornish names occur among the manumissions of serfs in the Bodmin Gospels (10th century). They were printed by Whitley Stokes in the Revue celtique, i. 232. Next comes the Cottonian Vocabulary, which seems to follow a similar Anglo-Saxon collection and is contained in a 12th-century MS. at the British Museum. It consists of seven pages and the words are classified under various headings, such as heaven and earth, different parts of the human body, birds, beasts, fishes, trees, herbs, ecclesiastical and liturgical terms. At the end we find a number of adjectives. This vocabulary was printed by Zeuss², p. 1065, and again in alphabetical order by Norris in the Ordinalia. The language of this document is termed Old Cornish, although the forms it contains correspond to those of Mid. Welsh and Mid. Breton.

The first piece of connected Cornish which we know consists of a poem, or portion of a play(?), of forty-one lines discovered by Jenner in the British Museum. This fragment was probably written about 1400 and deals with the subject of marriage (edited by W. Stokes in the Revue celtique, iv. 258). A little later is the Poem of Mount Calvary or the Passion, of which five MSS. are in existence. The poem has been twice printed,