Literature (fictional prose/drama)Literature (poetry/verse)
Auguste Pélage Brizeux (Lorient 1803 – Montpellier 1858) was given a traditionalist Catholic schooling in Vannes and in Arras, and undertook law studies in Paris in 1824. There he joined a coterie of (mainly aristocratic and reactionary-monarchist) Breton students. His literary debut was made after the 1830 revolution: Marie (1831), a long narrative poem evoking a failed love affair and, in true Romantic spirit, equating the lost beloved with the distant fatherland – in this case: Brittany. Brittany, its language and culture, became an increasing point of identification as Brizeux made contact with the aging Le Gonidec and with La Villemarqué, thirteen years his junior. Although invited to joined the Breton delegation to the 1838 Abergavennyeisteddfod, Brizeux decided to stay in Paris to keep the ailing Le Gonidec company. The bardic titles bestowed on La Villemarqué and his companions also triggered a “bardic” frame in his poetical self-identification, although meanwhile, employed at a Lycée in Marseille, he had also developed an affinity with Italy.
Les Bretons, a romance collection inspired by Breton folklore and legends, appeared in 1845 and with the support of Alfred de Vigny and Victor Hugo obtained a prize from the Académie française. One of the romances, La chasse du Prince Arthur, evoking a medieval Duke of Brittany, later inspired a symphonic poem by Guy Ropartz (1911-12). In the next decade, many more Breton-themed verses appeared in the Revue des deux mondes. Histoires poétiques (1855) was again crowned by the Académie française.
Brizeux developed tuberculosis after 1851 and died in 1858. He is mainly remembered as one of the founding fathers of a French-language, regionally Breton literature. However, as a native speaker of Breton, he also published Breton-language works during his stay in Paris: a verse collection, Telenn arvor (1844), and a collection of proverbs (1845). For these he did not use his native Cornouaille dialect but the standard version of Le Gonidec.