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    Bretons Reborn
    Activism; Posted on: 2007-08-18 11:26:59 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    An annual festival revives old Breton music – one aspect of the region's burgeoning cultural pride.

    By Susan Sachs
    Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

    Paimpol, France - "The wind laughs in their eyes, these men with the scent of the ocean," sings Hervé Guillemer. "They have eyes that cry waves, these men on the jetties who yearn for the past, when life was as wide as the sea."

    Mr. Guillemer has a white beard, a sun-blistered face, and the broad, calloused hands of a laborer. In fact, he is a storyteller who works a burnished yellow concertina in wheezy complement to seafaring tales from his native Brittany.

    His songs and poems are inspired by a sense of history and his inheritance – specifically, the 5,000 weathered postcards that his Breton grandfather sent home from all points of the compass over a lifetime of whaling and sailing.

    But being Breton is not all about old sailors' songs and salt-caked memories, Guillemer insists to me later, in a stern effort to correct an outsider's thinking. "Breton culture is alive, and it's always being revised."

    Apparently, it is. In an increasingly standardized France, where more people buy their bread in supermarkets than at the corner boulangerie, that dose of fierce regional pride is as refreshing as an ocean breeze – and something locals relish.

    News Source: Christian Science Monitor


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