From December 7, 1913 to August 2, 1914, Sébillot published his memoirs, in the form of a weekly series, in the newspaper Le Breton de Paris. The publication was interrupted by the war and the manuscript was never found. It was undoubtedly because of his quarrel with Henri Gaidoz over his role in the emergence of the popular tradition movement that Paul Sébillot decided to write his memoirs. He announced this in February 1913 in an article in the Revue des traditions populaires, « Notes pour servir à l’histoire du folklore »: “But a few years ago, I undertook, at the request of my children, to write my Memoirs, which I did not only according to my memories, but with the help of my correspondence, my notes and printed documents; I was led to tell the story of my folklore studies, from my first attempts until the time when Folklore became my main objective. It is from this chapter, unpublished, that I borrow, reducing it to the essential parts, this little story of my beginnings” (RTP, volume XXVIII, n°2, February 1913: 51). These memoirs did not remain unpublished for long. By the end of 1913, Sébillot had them published, in serialised form in the newspaper Le Breton de Paris, a publication announced in an insert of RTP. These « Mémoires d’un breton de Paris » were to be published weekly, every Sunday, from December 7, 1913 to August 2, 1914. The general mobilization then interrupted the newspaper and their publication. At the end of the war, the newspaper appeared again but without the Memoirs. Sébillot died before this, in April 1918. It has so far been impossible to trace the manuscript, which is very regrettable. The chapters published, which are transcribed here, only concern his childhood years, adolescence and the beginnings of his activity as a painter. We therefore find nothing in it about his early days as a folklorist (which he summarized in the two articles in Volume XXVIII of RTP) or his political activities, let alone his later life, when he became head of cabinet at the Ministry of Public Works or when his activity as a folklorist was in full swing. However, these are memoirs in the true sense of the word. They tell us little about Sebillot’s private life. He says nothing about his marriage, for example, or the birth of his children. But he describes in detail the events he experienced and the characters he came to meet. The portrait he gives us to discover is therefore not his own, but that of the notables of the province first of all, then of Parisian artistic circles. One can easily imagine the interest that there would have been in having the same information concerning the erudite sociability of folklorist circles of the late nineteenth century, of which he was the tireless leader.
Sébillot, Paul, 1913-1914. « Mémoires d’un breton de Paris », Le Breton de Paris, journal hebdomadaire paraissant le dimanche, organe des intérêts bretons. Weekly paper published from December 7, 1913 to August 2, 1914.
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