Myths of authenticity and cultural performance: Breton identity in the poetry anthology 1839-2000

David Elwyn Evans*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article examines the various constructions of Breton identity in twelve anthologies of poetry revealing three broad conceptual phases: celebration of an essential ethno-cultural otherness which nonetheless belongs within the French Republic (1830–1918), calls for independence which harness pan-Celtic or postcolonial discourses (1919–71), and a playful, performative notion of identity based on cultural affinity, inclusive of incomers (1976–2000). I focus on strategies of editorial framing which, in each phase, insist on the apartness, and the authenticity, of Breton expression. These anthological, quasi-anthropological projects both anticipate and encourage the reader’s touristic gaze, betraying anxieties about Brittany’s relationship to the nation within which it must negotiate a place. These negotiations are played out in texts which, in their use of the French language and French poetic forms, operate a constant dialogue with the national tradition, a mode of self-questioning to which the poem is particularly well suited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-174
Number of pages16
JournalNottingham French Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Poetry
  • Anthologies
  • Brittany
  • Identity
  • Authenticity
  • Touristic gaze
  • Cliché
  • Performance


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