Interpretations and Perspectives of the Great Conflict
Jacques-Yves Mouton - The Trauma of World War I upon Breton Society and Its Impact in Breton-Speaking Literature
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Centre of Breton and Celt Research (CRBC) Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France
The Trauma of World War I upon Breton Society and Its Impact in Breton-Speaking Literature
Abstract: Before World War I, the Breton society was rather homogeneous. It was a stronghold of Catholicism and mainly a rural society. In the west, Breton was the most common language of work and social communication. But the war upset this equilibrium. First of all, Brittany lost 200,000 men as a result of World War I. Besides that, during the war, Breton soldiers met men from other regions of France and started to speak French. They also were sent to regions of France where the average living standard was much higher than in their native region. After the war, they had a strong urge for similar progress and this was the reason why they preferred to speak French rather than Breton. Therefore, it is possible to say that the war ignited processes which limited the use of the Breton language, lasting to the 1950s. Alcoholism was a further result from this war because men in the trenches were freely supplied with wine or apple jack in order to keep their morale high. During the war, soldiers wrote songs in which they expressed not only hatred of their foes, but also their distress and even mercy towards enemies. Some Breton intellectuals, who served as soldiers during World War I, also wrote books...
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