photo credits: CC-PD-Mark
country of citizenship:
native language: French
language of expression: Breton, French
occupation: poet, writer
Julien Auguste Pélage Brizeux (12 September 1803 – 3 May 1858) was a French poet. He was said to belong to a family of Irish origin, long settled in Brittany. He was educated for the law, but in 1827 he produced at the Théâtre Français a one-act verse comedy, Racine, in collaboration with Philippe Busoni.
His most important works are, first, Marie (1832, 1836, 1840), then, Les Bretons (1845, 1846). He also wrote in the Breton language, notably Telenn-Arvor and Furnez Breiz.
Brizeux was born at Lorient (Morbihan. Though he was brought up with the Cornouaille dialect of Breton, in his Breton language verse he used the standardised Breton codified by Jean-François Le Gonidec. He became an ardent student of the philology and archaeology of Brittany, and had collected materials for a dictionary of Breton place-names.
A journey to Italy in company with Auguste Barbier made a great impression on him, and a second visit (1834) resulted in 1841 in the publication of a complete French translation of Dante's Divine Comedy in terza rima. In his collection Primel el Nola (1852) he included poems written under Italian influence, entitled Les Ternaires (1841), but in the rustic idyll of Marie (1836) turned to Breton country life; in Les Bretons (1845) he found his inspiration in the folklore and legends of his native province. In La chasse du Prince Arthur he created a narrative around the short life of Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, murdered by King John of England. His Histoires poétiques (1855) was crowned by the French Academy.
Following his death at Montpellier on 3 May 1858, his Œuvres complètes (2 vols., 1860) were edited with a notice of the author by Saint-René Taillandier. Another edition appeared in 1880-1884 (4 vols.). A long list of articles on his work may be consulted in an exhaustive monograph, Brizeux; sa vie et ses œuvres (1898), by the abbé C. Lecigne.
Known as "le prince des bardes bretons", he was credited as the founder of modern Breton literature by later Breton Celticists. Théodore Botrel created a monument to him in Pont-Aven, which is ceremonially adorned each year at the Fête des Fleurs d’Ajonc. His works in Breton, Telenn Arvor (1844), and his collection of proverbs, Furnez Breiz (1845), were republished by Roparz Hemon in the Breton language literary magazine Gwalarn in 1929.
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