Friday, 4 January 2019

'Tregarrion's Bequest'

Mark Valentine's second story in Inner Europe looks at the complex interweaving of history, folklore, and culture. The eponymous scholar leaves a bequest to the nameless narrator (whose nationality is never revealed). The condition of the bequest is to continue Tregarrion's research into the links between Cornwall and Brittany, the region of France settled by refugees from the former Roman province of Britannia.

The bequest leads to a quest, taking the narrator to the Breton port of St Meriazek. There he attempts to engage the locals with a few words of the Cornish tongue, causing confusing and some dismay. When he asks about the local festival, or pardon, he is told that virtually every other town in Britanny has one. On his walks about the town he finds an odd buildings, sealed off by a wall, that may have some ritual significance.

The story's conclusion is suitably mystical, and satisfying. The link between Cornwall and Britanny is established in a surprising but undeniably valid way. But it is also a connection that could never be the subject of a scholarly paper. One could see this is a rather sad tale of a great tradition all but lost. Yet I found it oddly uplifting.

More on this collection very soon, I hope.

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