This is the perfect introduction to the infinitely varied world of Breton legends. Drawing on many sources of popular oral tradition, the author provides a historical and cultural context for stories and sayings from all over Brittany. The contents are organised by themes such as the founding saints, the landscape, the sea, women, death and the devil, and all sorts of little people. Ankou, Conomor, King Arthur and the city of Ys all make their appearance alongside black dogs, giants, sirens and sinners. Attention is paid to the background necessary for understanding the origins and significance of these stories. The chosen legends range in subject from the fantastical to important historic events, and in time from pre-history to the present day. The folklorists and conteurs who have kept these tales alive are also honoured in this wide-ranging and entertaining book..
This book is surprising. Even if you are well-rooted in the 21st century and think of Brittany only in the context of family holidays or as a congenial place to live near the sea, you may well find it very difficult to put down. So what is so intriguing? Well, essentially an authoritative and well-informed discussion of the constitution and origins of legend is peppered with a gallimaufry of humorous, hair-raising, bizarre, likely and unlikely tales, both ancient and latter-day. Brittany's classics are here - the sagas of Tristan and Isolde, the lost land of Ys, King Arthur and Merlin - but there are also rollicking yarns of saints and goblins, giants, the devil and the rest, tales you may or may not have heard before, all woven into the landscape of rock, river, mountain and sea. Nowhere in Europe surely has such a rich heritage as Brittany, although it is interesting that many stories also have connections with Cornwall, Wales, or Ireland.
Whether you are a holiday-maker or a resident of Brittany this book simply must be on your reading list because it gives you something that no guidebook can - an understanding of the roots of this truly different region and a glimpse into its very soul.
reviewer on Amazon
Paperback, 304 pages
Illustrations: black & white
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Legends of Brittany
from the dawn of history to the nuclear age...