Region and Republic
Gifreu, patrick2111
Cerdà suite1
In this issue, Transcript turns its attention to two regions in France, Northern Catalonia and Brittany. In both regions, as in other regions in France, notably The Basque Country (see Transcript 5), indigenous languages continue, against the odds, to be spoken, written and read.

For several decades, questions about the survival of regional languages and cultures in France have been current. The numbers speaking these languages have fallen drastically. The way of life associated with them has vanished. Successive French Republics have enforced linguistic uniformity relentlessly and systematically.

Yet France is no longer the country it was. Debts in the public health sector are out of control. Cutbacks in education have brought the people from the classroom and the research laboratory out onto the streets. The economy is sluggish. Extreme right wing ideas are current and laws passed month after month strengthen the security forces and disempower the citizen. Panache and high principles in areas of foreign policy mask the sort of corruption which sparked a revolution in 1789.

Against this backdrop of national decline, is it now conceivable that regionality will outlast republicanism in France? The Republic may drag its constituent regions under with it. Some thinkers and writers in Brittany and Catalonia work in the hope that this will not be the case. Among these are Brittany's Yann Gerven, and Northern Catalonia's Patrick Gifreu and Jordi Pere Cerdà.

Transcript met Yann Gerven on his farm in Breton-speaking Brittany. He spoke of the disproportionate place which church-influenced writing occupies in the modern tradition. If Breton is to survive, he argues, its writers must see themselves as part of an international community. Patrick Gifreu, one of six Catalan writers we interview in this issue, has translated medieval Catalan classics and modern writers such as Miquel Bauçà (see Transcript 3) into French, while his compatriot Jordi Pere Cerdà is perhaps best known for his works for theatre.

Also in this issue of Transcript we hear of the preparations for Bookworld Prague, where Scotland, Wales and Ireland will be guests. We find out about Y Byd ('The World'), the first ever daily paper in Welsh, due to appear in the coming year, and discover why America yawns at foreign fiction.

© University of Wales, Aberystwyth 2002-2009       home  |  e-mail us  |  back to top
site by CHL