AN INTRODUCTION TO YOUENN GWERNIG
Written by Lois Kuter - August 1983, ICDBL newsletter
Youenn Gwernig came to the United States in 1957 at the age of 32.
His reasons were not different from those of other Bretons who had preceded him or who followed later. With a sister already in New York, emigration seemed the best means to solve the difficult problem of earning a living. But there was also the problem of "feeling at home" at home -- an uneasiness which was perhaps more subconscious than conscious. Although today Brittany seems alive with a youth determined to revive their heritage and create a new one of their own, in the early 1950's Bretons concerned about the future of their nation might well have felt disheartened. Some felt it would be better to feel like a stranger elsewhere.
Arriving in New York, Youenn Gwernig worked as a dishwasher and waiter, but most of his 12 years there were spent using his woodworking skills in a factory which reproduced Louis XV style furniture--a job of dull assembly line work and three hours of subway commuting each day. With the supplemental income of his wife Suzig who worked in the cont check of a bowling club, the Gwernigs were able to provide for three daughters- Annaïg, Mari-Loeiza and Gwenola--and indulge in some of the taken for granted comforts of American life. But the money ran out when Suzig's mother (also in the U.S.) needed hospitalization and an operation. Without insurance, the bills piled up. In 1965 mother, daughter and granddaughters returned to Brittany while Youenn stayed behind to pay off the debts.
By the time he got back to Brittany in 1969, the debts were paid and he was as poor as when he had left Brittany, but Youenn Gwernig had also become known and respected in Brittany as a Breton language poet. If the United States holds memories of long and hard work hours, it also holds memories as the place where he really started to write--and his writing was in Breton. During the years in New York Youenn Gwernig combed the Breton collection of the New York public library and sent for books from Brittany. The return mail carried his poems and stories to Al Liamm.*
Residence on Ryer Avenue in the Bronx introduced Youenn Gwernig to the unmelted pot of urban American cultures. We meet the people of his American experience in his songs, poems and stories, But, one of Gwernig's best known acquaintances in the U.S. was another Breton, Jack Kerouac, whose family (Le Bris de Kerouac) traces back to the Côtes-du-Nord before its arrival in the "New World" in the 18th century. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac was proud of both his Breton and Native American roots.**
Youenn Gwernig is not known in Brittany today, however, because he befriended a famous writer. He is known ‘in his own right as a singer, poet, and wood sculpter, as well as defender of Breton freedom to be Breton, It was the desire to be Breton in Brittany as well as the desire to rejoin his family that took him back in 1969 to stay. A sense of freedom was immediate. In an article written in 1980 about Gwernig, Yvon Le Vaillant recounts how, at 6 a.m. on his first morning back in the town of Huelgoat in the Arrez Mountains of
central west Brittany, Youenn ran down to the lake bordering the town and yelled "No subway today!" Reassured by the echo of the lake he went back to bed.***
Since his return to Brittany, Youenn Gwernig has lived in a small village just outside Huelgoat--a singer, poet and sculpter who loves long walks in the wild countryside and forests of the area. He continues to sing and to write and to insist on the
freedom to be Breton in Brittany.
The freedom to be a Celt is an important theme in all of Gwemig's writing. It was in the anonymity of American crowds and the greyness of New York City that he came to write down many of his thoughts about his own identity, his feelings for his native country, and the experience of emigration. We have two contributions to this special
newsletter which present Youenn Gwernig to you. First, the poem “Harlu" ("Exile") which speaks for itself. This poem has appeared in the Breton language journal Al Liamm as well as in Yann-Ber Piriou's bilingual Breton/French collection of poetry, Défense de cracher par terre et de parler breton.**** Upon request, Youenn Gwernig has supplied us with an English translation for this news-
The second presentation of Youenn Gwernig is by means of a review of his novel La Grande tribu by another Breton emigrant, Hervé Thomas. Much of La Grande Tribu was originally published in Breton in Al Liamm as a series of short stories. The review will tell you that Youenn Gwemnig writes for many other emigrants who have crossed the sea to America.
* Al Liamm comes out every two months and is available by sub-
iption c/o: Yann-Ber d'Haese, Pont Keryau, 29290 Pleyben
Brittany (France). See the U.S. ICDBL Newsletter No. 2 for
a description of this important Breton language publication.
La Kerouac writes of his search for his Breton roots in his book
Satori in Paris (NY: Grove Press, 1966).
** - Yvon Le Vaillant "Le Barde des Monts d'Arrée," Le Nouvel
Observateur 825 (30 Aug.-5 Sept 1980), pp. 34-35.
For an autobiographical sketch of Youenn Gwernig see: "Barde
et Breton d'instinct" in Autrement (special issue: Bretagnes
les chevaux d'espoir) 19, June 1979, pp. 74-77; "Pennad Kaoz
gant Youenn Gwernig" (interview) in Evid ar Brezhoneg 178,
June 1980, pp. 1-6; and "Youenn Gwernig--B.À.S. No. 271" in
Ar Soner (special 4Oth anniversary issue) 273, 1983, pp. 18-19.
**** Yann-Ber Piriou. Défense de ( er par terre et de p:
Breton - poèmes de combat, 19 ° (Paris: P. d.
1971). This collection of poe by 20 contemporary Ereton
language poets is highly recommended to readers.
Youenn Gwernig poem - HARLU (Exile)
LA GRANDE TRIBU. Youenn Gwernig (Paris: Grasset, 1980)
Review by Hervé Thomas, 1983
Among all the reasons compelling a Breton to emigrate, there is one
that stands out. Some of us who have emigrated are conscious of it,
and for more of us it's all the way in the back of our minds. At one
point we realize that the elements important to the realization of a
harmonious and mentally and physically satisfying existence are not
there. We have been denied the right to think that those elements
Youenn Gwernig describes this in La Grande Tribu through the main character, Ange Rosso, a Breton emigrant to New York whose name come from his Italian father who worked as a stone cutter in the quarries of western Brittany. Ange Rosso cannot forget the reasons that. made him leave his nation. Not unlike Youenn Gwernig himself, he was a native Breton speaker, an accomplished piper, and a person directing his life according to the natural tendencies that make Celts behave, adapting their own cultural, emotional and physical capabilities to their natural surroundings. Ange Rosso has undoubtedly a Celtic
“The worst was the sudden transformation of mentalities...
like, all of a sudden everybody was ashamed of what they
used to be... I do not believe that I am one to put the
bottom on the ball. I had even dreamed of a Breton Nation
which would have found again its memory, its culture, îts
pride, in order to finally get hold of its history and
open itself to the future. But not the future that was
starting to develop under my very own eyes, and was com-
ing to look more and more like a voluntary genocide. I
was starting to look at myself as a remnant of a forgotten
era, like a displaced person, and with all evidence as one
who was rejected from his sphere. My wife, craving for
modernism, left me because of my lack of social ambitions
and my Celtic esoterism, predicting for me the dim future
of ending up as an absolute derelict outcast. All of a
sudden my entire nation seemed to feel like my wife.
How soon was my nation going to leave me?" (pp. 182-183).
Ange Rosso felt then that he was lost in his own natural environment. Therefore, he took steps to evade the sights of destruction that his sensitivity exposed him to, and came to the United States. When one reads Gwernig's book, one is appalled by the traumatic experiences Ange had to face before he decided to make the move (the departure
of his wife, the exodus of Bretons armed him in search of jobs, and the loss of his best friend--almost a son to him--in the Algerian War). My purpose here, however, îs not to describe those experiences in detail, but to help the reader be more aware of some of the
thoughts and feelings that are part of the experience of Breton emigration.
For those of us who have emigrated, the fact that we did not have to deal with such tragic events does not mean that we were not aware of the inadequacies inherent to the transformed nation in which we were living. Some of us close to our roots tried to react against modernistic bureaucratic oppression by using clumsy methods, violent reactions, and reckless behavior. Some of us tried to find a happy medium between the modern presentations and the concrete elements inherent
to our culture, habits and emotions. But, deep down in our soul, we knew that the principal elements which would contribute to our quest for recognition, respect and acceptance by foreign powers and nations
(France and nations within France) were smothered by the invasion of artificial ideas born out of modernistic greed and ancient drive for the assertion of power over others.
The very young people in Brittany--those able to understand words--have been listening to the older generations, and those generations never fail to bring up stories about generations before, for it. is imbedded in their soul. But, by the time the young people get to school they have already been exposed to a different world which offers them few options--options which are only the sum of added confusions. Although disenchanted by the thinking of some members of the Breton Nation, Youenn Gwernig is clear about the options he feels each Breton must face.
"It is the duty of our people to know whether they belong
to, and in, Brittany or not. If they are stupid enough
to let themselves be drawn into deep French waters or
other waters, it is not fair to ask the rest of the
world nations to try to correct the result of their
own listnessness . . . (Page 264, in answer to a
situation where terrorism was presented to Ange Rosso
as a means of exposing Brittany to the rest of the world),
For those of us who have become conscious of our heritage before or after leaving our nation, it is very easy to think and act as a member of the Breton Nation. We cannot speculate about the outcome of the thinking of the next generation and the generation after that. However, we do feel that Brittany will never cease to exist as a Celtic nation with its own identity.
By now readers may have given up hope for a succinct review of La Grande Tribu. Nevertheless, the above comments are necessary to expose readers to the true reasons of Breton denial of their own identity when at home and when travelling to find smaller communities of their own in which they can act as Bretons, speaking Breton, and in which they will gain a sort of experience that will be appreciated the day they are back where they belong. Emigration is not an easy choice for any of us; but as soon as we choose to leave, we end up being with individuals from our own nation seeking the warmth that was lacking in our own surroundings at the time we left. We do find it instantly as soon as we meet other Bretons in places where we can relate to each other. As people belonging in the same place--Brittany--all of a sudden we are aware of our own identity. Those who never spoke Breton try to find every excuse to come up with a few words, even though when they were within the French State boundaries their Breton accent marked them as idiotic "Ploucs" and, out of shame and insecurity, they denied their own identity.
Youenn Gwernig's book is a pure rendition of Breton (Celtic) attitudes toward life, its realities, determined thoughts, and a certain way of looking around and living one's life rather than letting it simply go by unnoticed. His presentation of Ange Rosso's experiences
(and through them, some of his own) are expressed in a typically Celtic manner, with Breton wit, irony, optimism vs. pessimism, and a fatalistic sense of humor which stresses the importance of living and expressing oneself within the boundaries of actual realities. Youenn Gwernig's sense of humor tends to be very subtle, but very understandable for those who are prepared for it; for others it may be taken as a bitter satire of the world in which we are living. Youenn Gwernig is never confused about issues, values, and forces. His attitude cannot be simplistic. He expresses this thoughts with a true understanding of the difficulties of communicating with concerned but ignorant individuals. It is poetic, realistic, humorous, sad, and a pure definition of a Celtic way of dealing with adversity. The whole story is written with an ironic undertone. Gwernig has rendered in a foreign language (French) the particular style in which a Breton speaker expresses himself. He has described with rare accuracy the life of every Breton in New York, for the form is the same for each one of us--only the details are different.
His book is more than a novel. It is a reflection in an excellent literary style of the life, soul and hopes of a real Breton.
Bibliography and Discography of works by Youenn Gwernig
An Toull en nor (le trou dans la porte). Locmaria-Berrient:
Âr MajemEdition, 112 pages, 1972.
An diri dir/Stairs of Steel/Escaliers d'acier. Locmaria-
Berrien: Ar Majenn Edition, 1976 (trilingual).
La Grande tribu. Paris: Grasset, 1980. (To be translated
Into English? - rumors of possibility)
Youenn Gwernig regularly contributes to various Breton language
publications, most regularly A1 Liamm.
Ni hon unan. Arfolk MK2. 45 rpm.
Distro ar Gelted (return of the Celts). Arfolk SB309, 1974
E kreiz an noz. Velia 223 0045. 1977
Youenn Gwernig. Production People, 1980.
BREIZH AMERIKA PROFILES | Lois Kuter
Lois Kuter has been informing English speaking audiences about Breton culture and language for over 40 years with her subscription based newsletter. Bro Nevez, the longest running Breton newsletter, includes articles about the Breton language and culture, book and music reviews, and short notes to introduce readers to Breton history, art, literature, economy, sports, nature and Brittany's Celtic cousins. Lois is also the only American to have been awarded a Collier de l’Hermine.
We sat down with Lois to discuss her connection to Brittany, about the ICDBL, and her thoughts on the future of Breton language.
What is your link to Brittany?
I have no Breton or Celtic heritage in my family that I know of. My discovery of Brittany was accidental. I’m afraid it is a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. When I was a teenager I bought an exotic looking musical instrument labeled “Made in Pakistan” which turned out to be the practice chanter for Scottish Highland bagpipes – the basic instrument one uses to learn and practice tunes. I found that there was a bagpipe band in my area – there are many in the U.S. – and I decided to learn. From there I discovered the variety of bagpipes and had the good fortune to meet an uillean piper who took me and a friend on as students. I started on the wooden flute then gradually got up the courage to try the uillean pipes. My piping is very rusty these days and I was never exceptional on either the Highland pipes, uillean pipes or flute, but came to love the music and enjoyed getting together with friends for very informal gatherings where conversation far outweighed music-making. My uillean pipes teacher was interested in all the Celtic languages and cultures and it was at his house that I discovered the music of sonneurs de couple and the bagad, as well as Breton song.
I studied anthropology and ethnomusicology as an undergraduate student at Oberlin College and then as a graduate student at Indiana University (Bloomington). When it came time to choose a dissertation topic for my PhD, looking at the relationship of Breton music to Breton identity was a natural choice. And to understand what Breton identity is, it is necessary to look also at language. So I set off for a preliminary look at Brittany the summer of 1975 and then spent an entire year there from September 1978 to September 1979 – certainly a very interesting period in the evolution of Breton identity and music. There have been a few shorter trips since, and I have kept in contact with many friends I made while in Brittany.
Music has always been what I love most about Brittany and from 1984 to 1997 I produced 139 hour-long and half-hour-long radio programs for a local radio station here in Philadelphia. While this was a small university station, there were hundreds of listeners who discovered all kinds of Breton music from LPs and CDs of that period in my collection.
Tell us about the ICDBL and the newsletter that have been going on for over 40 years? How does someone sign up for it?
The International Committee for the Defense of the Breton language was founded in Brussels in 1975. During the years after that over 20 “branches” were established throughout Europe – in most cases a single representative with a particular interest in the Breton language. The idea was to show that it was not just the people of Brittany who were interested in the future of the Breton language. The Brussels base offered the opportunity for the ICDBL to do lobbying on behalf of the Breton language in the European Community.
During my stay in Brittany in 1978-79 I was asked to consider setting up a branch of the ICDBL in the U.S. which would add to the presence of a branch already in Canada. The U.S. Branch of the ICDBL was founded in 1981 and we published the first issue of our newsletter that year. Unlike the other branches of the ICDBL, the U.S. branch was a membership organization. Although it has dropped in recent years, annual membership has hovered around 100 individuals from over 40 states and a few provinces of Canada. The focus of activity has always been the newsletter, Bro Nevez, which provides readers with news about the Breton language and efforts to promote it in Brittany as well as information about Breton music, history, economy, cuisine, the natural environment, arts, sports, etc. Besides the newsletter the U.S. ICDBL has written letters of protest to French government officials (usually without response), and we have set up information stands at Celtic Festivals. Because of our dispersal throughout the U.S. we have not held meetings but have a board of consultants who communicate regularly if there are issues to be addressed – elections of new officers, financial matters, changes of membership dues (which remain very low at just $20 a year), or other action that should be addressed as a group.
Our members have diverse backgrounds – many with a strong interest in Celtic languages and music, some with a Breton ancestry, others who might have spent vacation time in Brittany, and yet others who simply feel it is important to support minority languages. Most speak neither French nor Breton, so our newsletter has been important in providing access to English language news that has been scarce in either print or more virtual media.
All back issues of Bro Nevez are accessible on our website www.icdbl.org to anyone interested, but we welcome new memberships as a way to cover costs of mailing complimentary print copies of the newsletter to individuals and institutions in Brittany who request it in that format. Anyone interested should contact me at email@example.com.
What do you see as the future of Breton language? What steps should be undertaken or done?
One cannot be overly optimistic about the future of the Breton language, but it seems that Bretons remain diligent in finding as many ways as possible to give it a place in Breton life. The bilingual schools and the immersion style of Diwan continue to grow, but the French Education system seems to throw up roadblocks whenever possible. For example the French Constitution was used to eliminate measures to advance immersion style teaching in the recent Molac law for regional languages. There has been a growth in radio, audiovisual, and other media presence for Breton but there is need for much more growth there. Thanks to the militant efforts of Bretons to insist on bilingual road and street signage, there have been advances there too. I think the amazing creativity and diversity in Breton music has also been a positive factor. Younger Bretons have embraced the traditional heritage of Breton language song and also create new songs in all styles.
It will be up to Bretons themselves to ensure the future of the language by learning it and using it in everyday life. And new generations will need to keep up the fight to counteract government roadblocks and resistance to provide real support for regional languages. Easier said than done!
BREIZH AMERIKA PROFILES | Josh Tyra
Josh is a Chicago-based language enthusiast. We sat down with him to learn about his connection to Brittany, France and how he helped in translating J.R.R Tolkien's, The Hobbit into Breton.
The Hobbit has become one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide. J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel was initially published on September 21, 1937, and the New York Herald Tribune swiftly nominated it for the Carnegie Medal and granted it a prize for finest juvenile fiction. The Hobbit has never been out of print and has spawned a film adaptation series, which debuted in 2012 and went on to become one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time.
[Breizh Amerika] What is your link with Brittany?
[Josh Tyra] In 1996, When I was 17 and a burgeoning language buff, I went to Brest for a summerlong French-language immersion course. I arrived very curious about the Breton language as well. I didn’t know a single word of it, but I asked virtually everyone I met if they could speak Breton or knew anyone who did. I stayed with two host families that summer, and I was pleased to learn both of them had a connection to the language: a grandfather in one family, in Le Relecq-Kerhuon, was a native speaker; a little girl in the other, across the bay in Plougastel, was just beginning a bilingual track at school. I also scoured bookstores and began to amass Breton grammars, dictionaries, and magazines—a whole suitcase full by the time I went home! To the consternation of my French teachers, I think I spent more time studying Breton that summer than I did working on my French homework. On subsequent trips I made more personal connections—and bought more books!—and I kept studying the language through the years.
When social media took off, I made some good brittophone friends online and got a chance to practice with them. In 2017, my former high school choir in Indiana invited me to compose a new song for them and to conduct the first performance. I decided to write an original poem in Breton and set it to music. The result was “Glas eo ar Mor” (“The Sea is Blue”), which I would describe as a love song to Brittany and to the Breton language. The lyrics play with the multiple meanings of the word glas (“blue, green, pale, gray, bracing,”) while the music is meant to evoke the rise and fall of ocean waves. A clip from the first performance was featured on the Breton-language chat show Bali Breizh, and I later got an email from a woman who told me she was a Breton speaker from birth and loved the words to my song. That really meant a lot to me!
How did you get involved in the second edition of the Breton translation of The Hobbit?
One of my prize bookstore finds in Saint-Brieuc in 2001 was An Hobbit, the newly printed first edition of Alan Dipode’s Breton translation of The Hobbit. I was thrilled when I found it: I’ve been a lifelong Tolkien fan, ever since my father read The Hobbit to me as a little boy, and I love using translations of familiar books to help me learn a new language. I was lucky to get a copy, because this edition went out of print fairly quickly. Later I became aware of Michael Everson, a linguist, fontographer, and publisher now based in Dundee, Scotland. His unique publishing company Evertype specializes in Celtic and other minority languages, the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll, and some related topics. When I saw he had published The Hobbit in both Irish and Cornish, I thought Evertype would be the perfect place for a second edition of the Breton Hobbit, so I wrote to him. He already knew about Alan’s translation and was keen to publish it. He asked me to look into the copyright status, and thanks to social media I soon made contact with Alan’s son and got him connected to Michael. With the original publisher no longer in business, Alan was the sole copyright holder for the translation, and he agreed to Michael’s proposal to republish it.
At this point, Michael mentioned to me what we came to call the “God problem”: Tolkien’s characters often use “minced oaths,” mild old-fashioned exclamations such as “Good gracious me!”, “bless my soul!”, “my goodness!” and “oh dear!”, all euphemisms for stronger imprecations. Alan had rendered many of these expressions with the Breton phrase ma Doue ! (literally “my God!”). This was a legitimate translation option, since ma Doue is frequent in spoken Breton, where it has a bit less force than its English equivalent. Michael, however, felt that ma Doue and a couple of similar expressions (such as petra an diaoul…? “what the devil…?”) were out of place in The Hobbit. Although Tolkien was a devout Catholic, he never had his Middle Earth characters make direct references to Judeo-Christian religion. So Michael asked me to research some alternative phrases. I found many possible substitutes and sent my findings to Alan, who proved more than happy to make the requested changes. He used some of my suggestions and incorporated many other expressions I hadn’t even been aware of. Apart from the 30-odd instances of the “God problem,” I had also found three other passages where I felt the Breton might be retooled to better reflect the English as I understood it. I made so bold as to include these in my list of suggested changes, and I was delighted when Alan accepted them as well. This gave me confidence, and I began to think the project might benefit from a native English speaker’s point of view on the whole translation—to say nothing of a second pair of eyes on the lookout for typos, of which many remained in the first edition. Since there were no other volunteers, I began to go through the entire Breton text word by word, line by line, comparing it to the original English. From the very start, Alan was extremely generous and collaborative as he patiently allowed me to query his translation choices down to the minutest detail. We developed a very warm rapport in the course of our work, and this project turned out to be one of the richest, most rewarding, and most enjoyable experiences of my life.
How long did it take and what was the reaction in Brittany?
The initial revision process took nine months, from June 2019 to March 2020. After the book was typeset, we spent about two months on further proofreading, and the book finally came out in August 2020 (in the middle of the first pandemic lock-down!). All told, I read the entire text word-for-word three times, and Alan read it at least that many.
The work continually reminded me how much I have left to learn. Sometimes Alan would accept my suggestions, but just as often he might tell me, “No, we can’t really say it that way in Breton.” An early problem we encountered was that I was unable to find some of the words in the Breton dictionaries at my disposal: I owned only one major dictionary and a couple of student ones. Even supplementing those with some very good online resources that had become available, I could not always track down the words Alan had chosen. He remedied this problem in the most extraordinarily generous way: heavy boxes of books began to show up on my doorstep—rare and out-of-print dictionaries and grammars that Alan had travelled the length and breadth of Brittany to find in used bookstores (and no doubt spent a fortune to have shipped to me!). Among them was one very scarce volume on Old Breton from his own personal collection, which he sacrificed to me after learning it was on my wish list. Thanks to his overwhelming kindness, I got the tools I needed to complete the job much more efficiently.
Although the project certainly expanded my knowledge of Breton vocabulary, grammar, and style, it also tested the limits of my English. I quickly discovered that a native command of English was not enough for a thorough understanding of the text. Tolkien’s English, though similar in many respects to my own, is not identical to it; and for a so-called “children’s book,” The Hobbit contains a large number of words quite outside the working vocabulary of even an educated English speaker. Often I overconfidently assumed I had understood a passage, only to find after further research that I had been quite wrong. Then there was the perennial bane of translators, genuine ambiguity. Even now there remain a couple of passages where the merits of two opposing interpretations still present themselves to my mind, and I can still get caught up arguing first one side and then the other, as if I were staring at the famous “vase or two faces” image.
The project also confronted me at every turn with the question, “What constitutes a faithful translation?” I was initially disposed to be overliteral out of sheer loyalty to the source text. This even became a standing joke between us! As the project proceeded, my approach relaxed—but not completely, as Alan can testify! In the end, I’m very proud of our work. The resulting text is still largely the same as Alan’s 2001 version, but I feel confident that we have arrived at dozens of improved readings. Not only that, but the majority of the typos, omissions, and other such mechanical errors have been corrected.
The reactions I have read from Brittany, primarily through social media, have been overwhelmingly positive. One young woman wrote, “I’m even more excited about learning Breton now that I have found this book!” That is my favorite comment so far, because it goes to the heart of why I participated in this project. I think if you want to encourage people to read in a given language, there are certain books you want to have in print, and The Hobbit is one of them: it consistently figures in top-ten lists of bestselling books worldwide. So this is my modest contribution to Breton literature and to promoting the longevity and health of the language. If it can generate excitement about learning Breton and reading in it, this edition will have fulfilled its goal. (By the way, for those who prefer not to patronize a certain global retailer, An Hobbit is available through AbeBooks, Book Depository, and many other online booksellers.)
Another reason to get excited about this edition is how beautifully and lovingly it has been produced: all of Tolkien's original maps and illustrations are included, and thanks to Michael's custom fonts, all the captions and legends look as if they had been hand-lettered by Tolkien in Breton. Where passages appear in Tolkien's Dwarvish runes and Elvish script, these have been not only translated into Breton, but represented using forms of those alphabets that Michael specially adapted to Breton phonology. It's this unheard of attention to detail that makes this Hobbit—and all of Evertypes' Hobbit translations—very special.
What are your future projects?
I’d like to continue promoting An Hobbit in any way I can. One thing we have done to raise awareness of the book is to produce four YouTube videos: short selections from the first four chapters read aloud in Breton by Alan and his wife Marivon Berr, with the text shown on screen and subtitles available in French and English (to view them, visit Evertype’s YouTube channel). We have more of these in the works—the next video in the series will feature the famous character of Gollum, and I’m eager for the world to hear Breton Gollum-speak! It’s really colorful. We’ve even had some requests for a full-length audio book, and I think that would be fantastic. I’d love to hear some really dramatic readings with a good variety of voices, accents, and ages. But this is as yet only an idea, and would take quite a lot of resources to produce.
I can also confirm that the Breton version of The Lord of the Rings (Aotrou ar Gwalennoù) is in an advanced stage of preparation, and I have already had some involvement in that massive undertaking. Any more on that subject I dare not say!
Also on my “to-do” list: I would like to translate F. Kervella’s enormous Yezhadur Braz ar Brezhoneg (Comprehensive Grammar of Breton) into English. I think this would be a significant contribution to Celtic linguistics. It would allow wider scholarly access to an important work that has influenced the writing of generations of Breton authors and translators, including Alan Dipode. I’ve made a good start on the translation, but it’s obviously going to be quite a job to finish it!
As for my music, I would love to hear “Glas eo ar Mor” performed by a choir in Brittany, maybe even with a full orchestra. I’ve been talking with an interested group in Brest, but unfortunately, their rehearsals are still on hold due to the pandemic. We may have to wait a while, but hopefully one day the song will be heard live in Brittany!
BREIZH AMERIKA PROFILES | Fabien Lamaison
Fabien is a San Francisco based startup CEO and founder. We sat down with him to learn about his Breton links and expat story.
What are your links with Brittany? How did you become an expatriate in the USA?
I studied in Brittany at the Ecole Nationale d’Ingénieurs de Brest and fell in love with the region and the Breton culture. The soul of the city of Brest is quite unique. The coast & Iroise sea are incredible, and inland the menhirs & dolmen are everywhere when you look for them. As for the crêpes & galettes I could have them every day! I became a “Breton by adoption'' as we say.
After I graduated, I moved to Paris and then to San Francisco, but I’ve always kept ties with my friends in Brittany. And you know... Brest and San Francisco are not that different! And I’m not just talking about the fog…
As it happens, I met Cyril Goust & Thomas Ramé, my co-founders at bunny.money, through our university alumni network as they were looking for opportunities in the US. Now we’re a transatlantic team with French-Americans in the US, Americans in Europe... and we are also residents at Le Village by CA Finistère incubator! We plan to scale our team in Brittany.
What’s bunny.money? Why did you start it?
With bunny.money, caring citizens can easily save and donate based on their financial wellness while their favorite nonprofits can fundraise for free. We disrupt giving as 100% of the donations go to the organization without any fee whatsoever (vs. 2-7% industry average fee). Nonprofit organizations can directly engage with their members (employees, volunteers, and donors) and get their support. bunny.money helps you support the causes & communities you care about.
We initially wanted to disrupt the piggy bank, with a new digital twist and the idea to combine savings with impact because they go hand in hand. If you want a better future, you need to prepare for you and your family, but also “invest” in your community and the planet. People, Planet and Prosperity are inseparable.
We are building the next generation of community banking service.
What’s your vision for the future of communities - social groups & networks?
In the past, we would get together with our family, friends groups, work, social and sports groups in our town. It’s not that different today, but the digital world makes it even easier to connect people with common interests, wherever they are located, and potentially breaking a few social constructs or norms barriers in the way.
Nowadays most of us also belong to different digital “tribes” in addition to our friends, family and local groups. In a way, it is truly multi-dimensional and gives us the opportunity to express our own identity, and build the relationships we want among these different communities. Breizh Amerika is a great example of a tribe connecting people digitally and in real life (IRL) in the US & Brittany through a collective, business & cultural expression.
If COVID-19 has one silver lining, it’s reminding us how much we truly rely on each other, from our family, friends, colleagues to the first responders, local communities & small businesses around the corner.
We have come to realize that the way out of the current health crisis is only possible if we help and respect one another. Solidarity makes us all superhumans, or simply more human again. And entraide (mutual aid) is at the core of any community. Similarly movements such as #MeToo or Black Lives Matter show how much stronger together we can be, and we need to do the same to save the planet.
For all these reasons, I believe communities will be our new social & economic fabric to prosper as a society.
A cornerstone of collective interactions. A stepping stone for people’s empowerment & fulfillment. Work will be more about sharing with our peers, giving & learning. You can imagine working a few days a week at a company, and also volunteering in a couple of local organizations. It could be a form of timebanking as well — time is the currency, you help with your skills and receive from others. And it can supplement Universal Basic Income too.
Communities have the potential to shape societies in new ways and play a key role in making good use of technologies (AI, blockchain etc.).
Wait, can we use bunny.money to support Breizh Amerika?
I thought you would never ask! ;-)
Hop into https://register.bunny.money and select your favorite Breton community.
You will receive $10 and Breizh Amerika will also get $5 when you use the app ✅
BREIZH AMERIKA PROFILES | Erwan Le Corre
Erwan Le Corre vit à Hawaï. Il nous raconte son histoire d'expatrié, la création de MovNat et ses futurs projets.
Quel est votre lien avec la Bretagne ?
Ma mère vient du pays Malouin et mon père du Cornouaillais. Ils se sont rencontres a la fin des années 60 dans le cadre d'une association Bretonne au Maroc qui entre autres organisait des cours de danse bretonne.Je suis ne en region parisienne et j'y ai grandi tout en regrettant fortement de ne pas pouvoir grandir en Bretagne. Nous nous rendions en vacances en Bretagne pour les vacances d'été, parfois pour Noel, et c'était pour moi toujours vécu comme un grand retour aux sources. Je me souviens petit aller en promenade avec mon arrière grand-mere et l'entendre parler breton avec ses voisins, a la Foret-Fouesnant, ou voir mes parents aller danser au Fest-Noz. Enfant, mon rêve était de jouer du biniou-vraz, d'apprendre le breton et de faire de la voile. Depuis tout petit, on m'a toujours rappelé que j'étais breton...et meme si je vis aux USA aujourd'hui, je m'en souviens toujours. Ces souvenir sont impérissables, l'ocean, les maisons de granit, les fougères, les ronciers ou en famille on cueillait des seaux entiers de mures a la fin de l'été pour en faire des tartes et des confitures pour le reste de l'année...aller a la pêche avec mes frères, escalader les cerisiers, les pommiers, courir dans les champs, explorer de nouveaux sentiers, passer du temps avec nos grand-parents, oncles et tantes, cousins et cousines, aller a la crêperie en famille...en bien des aspects c'était beaucoup de bonheur.
Racontez-nous un peu votre parcours d'expatriation ?
En 2006 j'ai decide de "changer de branche" et l'histoire de l'education physique et les anciennes méthodes d'entrainement me fascinaient car c'était en fait de cette façon que je m'entrainais personnellement pour la majeure partie. J'étais en fin de trentaine, et l'idée de repartir a l'étranger - j'avais deja une experience d'expatriation en Chine et au Brésil - me titillait. Les Etats-Unis m'attiraient beaucoup, car j'y était deja allé deux fois, donc un premier séjour d'un mois en Pennsylvanie dans une famille Américaine a l'age de 17 ans.
Par chance, alors que je n'avais aucun contact particulier, un journaliste de Men's Health USA est tombe sur ma seul et unique video Youtube, une video amateur de démonstration de "mouvements naturels" filmée en Corse, ce qui a abouti presque deux ans plus tard en 2009 a un énorme article de 11 pages, 16 photos sur mon travail et mon approche. Avec 1,5 million de lecteurs a l'époque, jee me suis retrouve submerge de demandes pour des cours, des stages, et d'autres articles de presse, radio et meme television (je suis passe a la tele japonaise, allemande, et sur plusieurs grandes emissions de TV françaises).
A partir de la il m'a été possible d'obtenir un visa "O-1" for "extraordinary abilities", et de vivre et travailler aux USA ou j'ai rencontre ma femme en 2010. Nous sommes maries depuis 10 ans et avons 3 enfants, et nous résidons actuellement a Hawaii.
Parlez-nous du mouvement de fitness que vous avez créé aux États-Unis?
C'est une méthode de fitness dont l'origine remonte principalement en France et basée sur la "méthode naturelle d'eduction physique" de Georges Hebert, mais que j'ai renouvellee et développe sur la base de ma propre expérience (mon entrainement physique a commence tout petit en fait), de mon bagage sportif, et de connaissances scientifiques lies au mouvement ou a l'adaptation physiologique.
Pour l'expliquer simplement, il faut penser a tout les mouvements naturels que l'être humain est capable de faire dans un milieu naturel, et que tous les enfants font par instinct étant petits: marcher, s'équilibrer, sauter et atterrir, courir, marcher "a quatre pattes", ramper, s'accrocher et escalader, manipuler des objects pour les porter, les lancer et les attraper etc...Ce sont des capacités de mouvement pratiques. L'idée est que, en les combinant, nous pouvons obtenir des sessions d'exercise très completes, très efficaces, avec une amelioration de notre efficacité technique et des adaptations physiologique (force, endurance, souplesse, équilibre etc...) comme dans tout sport, mais de façon beaucoup plus complete qu'avec un sport de spécialité.
Aujourd'hui nous avons 4000 entraîneurs certifies dans le monde entier donc pas seulement aux Etats-unis.
Pouvez-vous nous parler de la victoire du record national américain d'apnée statique ?
Etant petit mon père me faisait nager sous l'eau. Je me souviens mon grand frère me dire que le record d'apnée était de 5 minutes dans le livre Guinness des records, ce qui me semblait a la fois fascinant et impossible.
Mes oncles qui étaient des examples de forme physique pour moi faisaient de la chasse sous-marine.
J'ai débuté l'apnée statique il y a 12 ans, sans aucune méthode, j'essayais de battre son record personnel chaque jour pendant deux ou trois mois, la pire façon de s'entrainer et c'est très dur mentalement. Je me souviens que mon record personnel alors était de 4 minutes 43 secondes. Ensuite j'ai arrêté jusqu'il y a 2 ans de ca, quand j'ai commence la chasse sous-marine, et j'ai commence a me plonger - ce n'est pas un jeu de mot! - dans la recherche de méthodes et d'information scientifique. En l'espace de seulement 4 mois, grace a un entrainement physique et mental méthodique, j'ai pu réaliser ma plus longue apnée a ce jour, 7 minutes. Autrement dit mon record national CMAS (l'une des deux grandes organisations mondiales gérant le sport du "freediving") de 6 minutes 46 secondes est inférieur a mon record personnel, mais je dois dire que le contexte les quelques jours précédant cette performance ne jouait pas en ma faveur, j'étais stressé et souffrant; je compte donc faire mieux que ca la prochaine fois!
Quels sont vos futurs projets ?
Je suis en train de travailler sur une nouvelle méthode que j'enseigne deja en ligne, avec. En preparation des "e-courses" et un nouveau livre. Le concept est celui de meditation en apnée, ce qui peut paraître un peu fou alors que tout le monde sait très bien que l'esprit tend a devenir rapidement agite, négatif, et a paniquer meme, des lors que l'on retient son souffle pendant plus de 20 secondes. Or, il est non seulement possible de calmer son esprit et de méditer malgré le challenge, c'est une fait un moyen extraordinairement efficace de méditer si on sait comment approcher la chose. Beaucoup de mes élèves me disent qu'ils ont finalement pu faire l'experience de la meditation pour la première alors qu'ils n'avait jamais pu la faire par d'autres méthodes! Je vois des records personnels d'apnée passer de moins de 1 ou 2 minutes avant instruction passer a 4 ou 5 minutes en l'espace de quelques jours, ce qui n'est pas du a une adaptation physiologique pure mais a une adaptation neurophysiologique du aux techniques mentales que j'enseigne, les memes qui m'ont permis de battre le record national US d'apnée statique.
Le 21e anniversaire du Consulat des États-Unis d’Amérique pour le Grand Ouest
21 ans est un âge symbolique aux USA!
A l’occasion de son 21e anniversaire, le Consulat des États-Unis d’Amérique pour le Grand Ouest a tenu à fêter cet heureux événement en faisant part tout au long de l’été de témoignages des personnes et partenaires qui ont marqué ces années avec lesquels ils ont tissé des liens solides et dynamiques au fil des ans.
L'une des personnes choisies était Charles Kergaravat, président de Breizh Amerika. Voici une interview de Charles avec le Consulat pour célébrer leur 21 anniversaire.
[ Le Consulat ] Quelle fut votre première interaction avec le Consulat des Etats-Unis d’Amérique à Rennes?
[ Charles Kergaravat ] La première fois que j'ai rencontré l'équipe du Consulat des États-Unis d'Amérique pour le Grand Ouest, ce n'était pas là où vous vous y attendriez. C'était dans ma ville natale, New York, en 2013. Eric Beaty se rendait dans la Grosse Pomme avec une délégation afin de célébrer l'anniversaire du jumelage entre Rennes et Rochester. J'avais organisé un événement pour accueillir la délégation et ce fût le début d'une belle relation, essayant de tisser des liens entre la Bretagne et les USA. Puis en 2015, j'ai déménagé en Bretagne et j'ai organisé avec Breizh Amerika un événement à Auray dans le Morbihan auquel Eric a participé avec l'envie de continuer à développer les relations entre nos deux pays. Cet événement a rencontré un vif succès avec plus de 200 chefs d'entreprise et porteurs de projets présents à la soirée-conférence intitulée « Pourquoi est comment faire du business aux USA ».
Pouvez-vous raconter une anecdote particulière en lien avec le Consulat des Etats-Unis d’Amérique pour le Grand Ouest? Un temps fort qui vous a marqué?
Chez Breizh Amerika, bien que nous ne soyons qu'une organisation à but non lucratif, nous rêvons grand. Nous faisons beaucoup, avec peu.
L'un de nos rêves était de rapprocher deux univers musicaux très différents, breton et américain. Nous l'avons fait à travers des résidences musicales faisant collaborer des musiciens de jazz américains et des musiciens traditionnels de fest-noz bretons pour créer de la nouvelle musique. Ce collectif de musiciens a aujourd'hui tourné dans plus de 20 villes américaines et en 2019 nous avons décidé d'amener le “show” en Bretagne afin qu'ils puissent se produire à Yaouank, le plus grand fest-noz du monde. Le Consulat a été un partenaire important pour faire de ce projet un succès retentissant. Ce fut un moment très spécial pour moi que de regarder en live, avec l'équipe du Consulat, ce collectif d'Américains et de Bretons se produire devant 10 000 danseurs à Rennes. La foule les a adorés et leur approche unique du mélange des cultures fait encore souvent parler d'eux, même deux ans après le spectacle!
Quel est votre souhait pour l’avenir des relations franco-américaines?
Les relations entre la France et les États-Unis se sont forgées dans une période de grande tourmente. Les plus anciens alliés ont beaucoup plus à faire ensemble, surtout maintenant. Nous partageons des valeurs communes fondées sur la liberté, la démocratie et l'égalité. Ces valeurs communes nous unissent mais permettent également de relever plus facilement les défis qui nous attendent. On ne peut pas résoudre seul les problèmes du monde et une plus grande coopération peut être un moteur pour s'assurer que notre grande richesse et notre pouvoir sont utilisés pour aider plus de personnes dans le monde qui n'ont pas cette chance. Améliorer la facilité avec laquelle nos nations et nos entreprises travaillent ensemble sur le plan économique est essentiel, mais se réunir pour résoudre des défis générationnels tels que le changement climatique devrait définir ces relations à l'avenir.
Qu’est-ce que l’action du Consulat représente pour vous / vous apporte?
Je pense que la Bretagne est particulièrement chanceuse d'avoir un consulat. Le lien historique de la Bretagne avec les États-Unis est très fort et pouvoir s'appuyer sur celui-ci avec le travail actuel du Consulat est irremplaçable. Que ce soit sur le plan économique ou culturel, c'est le moment idéal pour développer davantage de liens et d'échanges. Leur travail incite également les générations futures à rechercher à développer des relations avec leurs pairs d'outre-Atlantique, ce qui est de bon augure pour l'avenir de nos relations.
Comment définiriez-vous la relation qu’entretiennent les Etats-Unis avec le Grand Ouest de la France?
De Benjamin Franklin au colonel Armand, il y a tellement d'histoires qui nous rassemblent. Il est aujourd'hui très prometteur de voir que les entreprises américaines sont le 1er investisseur étranger en Bretagne. Cela contribue non seulement à créer de nouveaux emplois, mais renforce également la coopération entre les deux pays. À l'avenir, il sera important de faciliter le flux de jeunes entrepreneurs et le développement de projets innovants communs pour les aider à grandir.
Jay Thompson a commencé à naviguer dès son plus jeune âge dans son État d'origine, la Californie, où il s'est lancé dans un voyage autour du monde en solitaire qui a duré une décennie et couvert plus de 20 000 milles nautique dans le Pacifique, les Caraïbes et l'Atlantique. Il a un large éventail d'expériences, y compris la course sur une variété de types de bateaux ainsi que la conception et la construction de voiliers.
Nous avons rencontré Jay pour discuter de sa prochaine course, la Mini Transat. Créée en 1977 par Bob Salmon dans le but de renouer avec l’esprit aventureux des premières transatlantiques, et organisée chaque année impaire depuis, la course, la 23ème édition de l’épreuve qui s’élancera le 26 septembre 2021 réunira 84 marins. Disputée en solitaire et sans assistance à bord de voiliers de 6.50 mètres, l’épreuve est une véritable école de la course au large, où le skipper doit être polyvalent et autonome pour faire avancer son bateau malgré l’exigence de l’exercice.
Racontez-nous pourquoi vous avez décidé de faire de la Bretagne votre port d’attache?
Parce que c'est la mecque de la course-au-large, j'ai toujours rêvé de venir un jour en Bretagne pour naviguer en solitaire et concourir en course au large et pour cela c'est l'endroit où il faut être.
Parlez-nous de Mini Transat et de votre préparation?
La Mini Transat est la course d'entrée pour la course au large, la petite taille des bateaux permet des tests d'innovation avec des budgets plus faibles et j'ai voulu en profiter pour repousser les limites et construire un bateau qui pourrait être plus rapide, un bateau volant.
Vous organisez un événement le 28 août à Étel, parlez-nous en? Ouvert au public?
Le baptême est ouvert au public, un moment pour célébrer enfin ce long accomplissement avec ceux qui ont aidé en cours de route et pour me souhaiter une bonne course à travers l'Atlantique.
Samedi 28 août à partir de 18h…
Place des Thoniers 56410 Etel
Il y aura un concert avec 2 musiciens de Bretagne, JoyD de Rennes et El Maout de Douarnenez.
Guillaume Verdier sera présent en tant que parrain du bateau ainsi que Thierry Du Bois en tant que parrain de course, le nom de course du bateau pour la MiniTranst sera #COCOTOPIA, nous présenterons également à cet événement le partenariat de communication avec Utopia56, une association qui aide les personnes exilées en France, il y aura un communiqué de presse officiel qui sera lancé le 27 août, la veille de l’événement. Nikolaï Posner le directeur de communication de l’association a Paris, sera présent ainsi que Jimmy Pahun.
Il y a des bretons partout dans le monde. Parfois, la diaspora bretonne surgit là où on ne l'attend pas. Cette semaine, un descendant des Rohan a fait la une des journaux aux USA.
Marissa Rohan, de Californie, est une ball girl des Dodgers de Los Angeles. Ball boys et ball girls sont des individus, généralement des jeunes, qui récupèrent et fournissent des ballons aux joueurs ou aux officiels dans des sports tels que le football américain, baseball et basket-ball. Bien que non essentielles, leurs activités contribuent à accélérer le jeu en réduisant le temps d'inactivité.
Le nom de famille de Marissa, Rohan, est un assez célèbre avec le nom d'un village en Bretagne mais aussi le nom d'une famille noble.
La maison de Rohan est une noblesse française de Bretagne dont le nom est dérivé de la terre de Rohan dans le Morbihan. La maison de Rohan prétendait remonter aux premiers rois de Bretagne, allant jusqu'à se proclamer les descendants du roi légendaire Conan Mériadec. La maison de Rohan tire son nom du breton Roc'han (« petit rocher »).
Cette semaine, le nom de Rohan a été largement cité dans la presse américaine à cause des exploits de Marissa Rohan. Marissa a été surnommée une «héroïne» après avoir taclé un fan qui a couru sur le terrain lors de la victoire 6-1 de dimanche contre le rival Angels.
Elle est intervenue après qu'un certain nombre de membres du personnel de sécurité n'aient pas pu attraper l'intrus. Rohan travaille pour l'équipe depuis 2019, mais le retrait des fans de dimanche serait son tout premier moment viral sur le terrain.
Marissa Rohan a publié des messages et le soutien d'autres personnes sur son histoire sur Instagram. Elle a même plaisanté en disant que le dimanche était une "journée de travail difficile". La jeune femme de 24 ans est senior à Cal State Northridge.
On ne sait pas si elle a déjà visité le château de Josselin qui appartient encore aujourd'hui à la famille Rohan.
Breizh Amerika is a "volunteer only led" non-profit organization building bridges between the USA and Brittany, France. Over the last six years we have organized events in over 20 American cities. During these events we have exchanged with many Breton expats that have fallen in love with American life but still have nostalgia for home. Many Breton expats feel torn between both places they love but work, family, and life sometimes takes precedence. Some only come back to Brittany for summer holidays and others make the big jump at one point to live again in place of their birth.
If you follow our blog or newsletter, you know that we share many Breton diaspora stories. The post below is a NY Times article from 1981 telling the fascinating story of Bretons of NY coming home to central Brittany.
Bretons of NY who move back to Bretagne
Two elderly ladies met recently on the main street of this tiny village in a remote corner of Brittany. ''That is a lovely coat,'' one said. ''It's like one I bought in Bloomingdale's years ago.''
''Thank you,'' the second woman replied. ''I got it at Lord & Taylor's just before Christmas.''
Not typical French country village gossip - except perhaps here in Roudouallec (pronounced rood-WALLECK), where more than half the residents once lived and worked in the United States.
''I loved the United States,'' said Henri Cadic, owner of the Renault agency and garage in the center of town, ''but after all I am French.''
Mr. Cadic, who earned the cost of his garage toiling as a Volkswagen mechanic in New Jersey, is typical of Roudouallec's French-Americans. He left this beautiful but poor country not to find a new life but to be able one day to make a good life for himself and his family here.
Roudouallec is a typical Breton village. That is to say, it looks very Irish. The whitewashed cottages with their high-peaked black roofs run like stone fences along the narrow streets, their walls bright in the soft rain that drives in from the sea. Like the vegetation in this empty, windswept land, the churches hug the earth and, all gray stone and moss, seem rather to have sprung from it than been placed there 500 years ago.
'It's Very Quiet'
''It's very quiet,'' acknowledges Jean Lescras, who until two years ago lived on East 77th Street in Manhattan. Mr. Lescras and his wife, Lilyane, operate the Bienvenue Restaurant on the main street of town. One day recently, three tractor-trailers, four smaller trucks and a handful of salesmen's cars were parked in his lot while their drivers tucked into his delicious, all-inclusive $6 lunch.
None of these clients had any idea that, before returning to France, Mr. Lescras was head chef at one of New York's elegant French restaurants, Raphael, on East 54th Street. Both he and his wife worked in various restaurants in New York in the two decades they lived there.
'We worked like dogs,'' Mrs. Lescras said. ''At least we don't have to do that here.''
The Lescras, like many of their neighbors here, never fully severed their ties with Brittany. They bought a piece of land more than a decade ago and eventually built a home on it. Every spare cent they could save went toward their eventual return. Now, they, too, have misgivings. ''We'll get used to it,'' she said, ''but you know, we left a lot of good friends in New York. We had a lot of good times there, too.''
Like southern Italy and the rural south of the United States, Brittany has always been a poor region whose principal export was its hard-working yeomanry. But it has always lured its sons and daughters home. Mrs. Lescras was following a family tradition when, at the age of 18, she went off to New York by herself to find a job and a husband. ''My father first went to the states in 1929,'' she said. ''He came back in 1934 and never returned.''
Both Jean and Lilyane Lescras speak English with the Celtic accent of Brittany. Not so their daughter, Michelle, who switches handily from French to pure Queens English - the borough, not the sovereign. Since she was a child, Michelle, now 20, has been spending all her summers with relatives here. Now happily married to a local man with a good wholesale produce business, she has no desire to go back to the United States, except for visits.
''Do you know Lefferts Boulevard?,'' says Louis Le Bris, speaking in French. Mr. Le Bris, who speaks Breton, too, but no English, was Roudouallec's Mayor for 23 years until he retired last spring.
''My brother lives on Lefferts Boulevard,'' he said. ''My sister lives near him and my nephew works for Grumman. He came here last year to sell radar for airplanes. Quite a fellow.''
Some of the younger people such as the Cadics and the Lescras, more attuned to the hectic American pace than they suspected and more irritated by pettifogging French bureaucracy than they thought they would be, are troubled at times by their return. Not so the Colin's.
A Golden Anniversary
When Celine Colin was 20, in 1929, she too left Brittany for America, hoping to find a job and marriage. She met Andre the second day at sea. He was a French Line steward. Last year they celebrated their 50th anniversary. They ended their careers together as the prosperous owners of Cafe Argenteuil, one of New York's well-known French restaurants.
They owned a home in Queens, like so many other French restaurant people, and a converted 200-year-old barn in Long Valley, N.J. Their home here, with its huge American kitchen and outsized garage, is one of the largest in Roudouallec.
The Colins spend six months here in France and six months in the United States. They sold their barn in New Jersey last year but plan to divide their time between New York - where a niece has fixed up a room for them in her apartment and where Mrs. Colin can scout Lord & Taylor's - and Florida. There, their nephew and former chef, Maxim Ribera, has opened a successor to the Cafe Argenteuil and has also fixed up an apartment for them.
''We have the best of both worlds,'' said Andre Colin, pulling fat leeks from a garden that grows year-round in the mild Breton climate. ''We have friends here - two of my old captains live nearby -and we have family in the states.
''We miss the view from our barn in Long Valley,'' Celine Colin said, ''and we miss the restaurant business and all the people we knew then, but for our age we have to say that we're happy.''
This article appeared in print on NY Times, April 22, 1981
Breton de NY : de Quimper à l'Amérique
Henri Le Noach, cuisinier-pâtissier à Locmaria - Quimper, est revenu au pays après un séjour de 10 ans (1922 à 1933) dans les grands hôtels de New-York. Ayant servi comme cuisinier sur les transporteurs de troupes américains pendant la Grande Guerre, il débarqua à New-York en 1922.
Il travailla au « Louis Sherry » qui avait un établissement frère à Paris, au « Plazza », puis descendit en Floride pour l'ouverture de l'hôtel « Danieli » à Palm-Beach. Pendant 8 ans, il travailla comme cuisinier à «L'Ambassador» de New-York, sous les ordres du maître Charles Scotto, élève et disciple de l'illustre Escoffier, «cuisinier des empereurs et empereur des cuisiniers».
A l'époque, Escoffier présidait aux destinées culinaires du «Ritz-Carlton» à Londres. Le «maître» franchissait parfois l'Océan sur un paquebot de la Cunard pour venir s'enquérir du standing de cette annexe de la cuisine française en terre américaine que constituait la table renommée de « L'Ambassador ».
Les cuisiniers francais (parmi lesquels nos Bretons sont bien représentés) avaient fondé une amicale, <<Le Vatel' Club», la plus grande association culinaire aux Etats-Unis, dont le président était Chartes Scotto. En 1923, Henri Le Noach y entra avec le numéro 1.069.
Revenu au pays natal, il est demeuré fidèle à la bonne cuisine française dont il est un artisan classique. La vraie cuisine est pour lui une science dont il faut respecter scrupuleusement les lois et les servitudes. Dans son sous-sol des allées de Locmaria, il continue à préparer toutes les spécialités culinaires, les glaces, les « wedding-cake » , (gâteau de mariage) dans la.;meilleure tradition française. Il ne se passe pas de semaine qu'on ne fasse pas appel à ses services pour un mariage, un banquet ou un repas de famille, à Elliant, Quimper, Douarnenez, Pont-l'Abbé ou Bénodet. Après son long apprentissage Outre-Atlantique, il est devenu, en quelque sorte, le pèlerin de la cuisine française en Cornouaille.
par Gregoire Le Clech
Articles déjà parus dans « PENN-AR-BED » en 1953
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