A recent book published by National Geographic
Lettre ouverte de Institut Culturel de Bretagne
Lettre ouverte de Philippe Argouarch

Publié le 27/10/03 18:00 -- mis à jour le 00/00/00 00:00

Dear sirs,

May we introduce ourselves : We are the Cultural Institute of Brittany, the popular academy of breton culture and identity, with 17 colleges and 800 members, most of them universitarians or scholars.

A recent book published by National Geographic - France, titled BRETAGNE (BRITTANY) has received our attention and we wish to contribute to improve on a second edition if there is to be one.

The book in question, in its first edition, addresses only a part of historical Brittany. The major city of Nantes and the area surrounding it, which conceivably would have brought you a large number of sales, were omitted from the book. And yet, that city has always been a part of Brittany ( and indeed was its capital city) by virtue of a treaty signed by both sides, Bretons and Franks, dating back to ... 841 !

From that time on Brittany remained a whole, until june 1941 (during the nazi occupation), when the collaborationist government of marshal Petain decreed to separate that region from the rest of Brittany. Please note that this region was the most industrialized part of Brittany, and you will not fail to note a similarity with the British government separating Ulster, the most industrialized part of Ireland, from that country.

Successive French governments from the end of the nazi occupation to this day, have failed to bring back the Nantes region to Brittany, in defiance of a human and cultural identity in existence for over a thousand years.

Major Breton venues are ignored by the book : for example :

the naval yard of Saint Nazaire, where the world's largest cruise ship, the Queen Mary II has been built and has just been launched. The original name of this site was "Penhouet" a breton word meaning "Edge of the Woods".

the best known historical monument of Nantes is its castle, known as "The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany"

many place names of that region attest to their belonging in Brittany : for a number of towns and cities, their pertaining to Brittany is evidenced by the fact that their name is followed by "de Bretagne" ("in Brittany") so as to avoid confusion with other places not in Brittany : Fay-de-Bretagne, Montoir-de-Bretagne, Sainte Reine-de-Bretagne, Le Temple-de-Bretagne, Vigneux-de-Bretagne, La Meilleraye-de-Bretagne etc ... Other place names of the same area have a celtic-breton origin, and not latin-french.

We would be happy to be in a position to contribute to promote such a fine book published by National Geographic, and may we in this respect draw your attention to a similar book , titled "LA BRETAGNE", published by your competitor Atlas, and which covers all of historical Brittany.

We are certain that the next edition of your own book will be rectified.

Doing so could in no way be held objectionable by any authority, be it French or other : any cultural publication addressing historical Brittany, i.e. including the Nantes region, is in conformity with the Cultural Chart for Brittany, signed by the then President of France, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, in October 1977.

The Chart clearly specifies that it covers all of historical Brittany; it applies to the press, book publishing, and any other media and our Academy is of course, needless to mention, in full accordance to that.

Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.

Institut Culturel de Bretagne/Skol-Uhel ar Vro

Bernard Gestin


Institut Culturel de Bretagne / Skol-Uhel ar Vro. Développement et diffusion de la culture bretonne à l'ensemble de la Bretagne. Colloques, conférences, journées de travail, publications.
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