Occitan poetry  980-2006

by Joan-Frederic Brun


XIX th century (1854-1914): spreading and sclerosis of the Provençal miracle 

Medieval poetry: the kingdom of love
XVI-XVIII century: tasty baroque antiliteratures
XIX th century: toward a renaissance
XIX th century (1854-1914):  spreading and sclerosis of the Provençal miracle
XX th century (1920-1965): the anguish of no future
XX th century (1965-1981): "un país que vòl viure" (a country that just wants to live)
XX th century (1981-2000): postoccitanisme
XXI th century: just a living literature among many other ones? 


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Frederic Mistral

And then, in Provence, miracle occurs. Young Frederic Mistral and his friend Joseph Roumanille meet. Both love speaking Provençal and begin to write it. And they decide this mad, romantic project: restore the old language and its literature.

At the same time other forbidden languages also undergo an unexpected rebirth: Celtic, Catalan, Romanese... Occitan is among them. In close contact with them.

In Montpellier a group of enthusiastic scholars founds the "Revue des Langues Romanes". Promoting the extensive study of anything related to both old and modern language. This journal encourages literature, even if most of the production has the only interest of saving some aspects of the language.

Thus, at the end of the XIXth century, despite linguistic repression at school which becomes more and more pitiless, the Occitan literature has undergone a wonderful rebirth. A romantic dream made truth by Frederic Mistral and his friends, who call themselves "felibres". And strengthened also by a more in-depth scientific work performed by scholars. All that has thus given room to a modern European literature that prolonges the secular adventure of troubadours.

However, there is still a huge repressive policy against the Occitan language. Its use is compared by most political leaders in Paris to a "trahison" against French patriotism.

A few years after this shiny rebirth, however, a major flaw in the poetry of that period, approximately after 1870, will be its excessive reliance on the French academic standards as learnt at school, and that are not adapted to Occitan. However, some poets strongly influenced by popular culture and the powerful expressivity of the "wild" language will still produce wonderful works in an attempt to re-create a "classical" literary language: Alexandre Langlade, Auguste Fourès, Louis Xavier de Ricard, Alphonse Roque-Ferrier. 

At the beginning of the first World War, this cultural movement is extremely active, there are more and more readers, there are a lot of Occitan popular journals, and the majority of people speak the language. However, the future will soon demonstrate that nothing is securely acquired on the path of revival, despite some great literary successes.

     Louis-Xavier de Ricard    Auguste Fourès   A    Langlade 

           Paul Froment

Antonin Perbòsc

Frederic Mistral

Theodore Aubanel

Paul Froment

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