Louis Aragon (October 3, 1897 – December 24, 1982), French poet and novelist, a long-time political supporter of the communist party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.
Aragon was born and died in Paris.
Having been involved in Dada from 1919 to 1924, he became a founding member of Surrealism in 1924 with André Breton and Philippe Soupault. Aragon joined the French Communist Party with several other surrealists. He would remain a member for the rest of his life, writing several political poems including one to Maurice Thorez, however he was also critical of the USSR, particularly during the 1950s.
In 1939 he married Russian-born author Elsa Triolet (born 1896), the sister of Lilya Brik, a mistress and common-law wife of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Aragon and Triolet collaborated in the left-wing French media before and during World War II, going underground for most of the Nazi occupation.
During the World War II German occupation of France he wrote for the underground press Les Éditions de Minuit.
One noted Aragon poem is "Red Poster," in which he honoured foreigners who died while fighting to free France. This was done in response, in 1955, to the Nazi propaganda campaign named Red Poster, which aimed at convincing the French people that the resistance movement was composed of foreigners, mainly Jewish, who served the interests of Britain and the Soviet Union.
From Snarxism to Marxism
The French surrealists had long claimed Lewis Carrol as one of their own, so it came as no surprise when Aragon tackled The Hunting of the Snark in 1929, shortly before he completed his transition from Snarxism to Marxism, as Martin Gardner puts it. Witness the key stanza of the poem in Aragon's translation:
- Ils le traquèrent avec des gobelets ils le traquèrent avec soin
- Ils le poursuivirent avec des fourches et de l'espoir
- Ils menacèrent sa vie avec une action de chemin de fer
- Ils le charmèrent avec des sourires et du savon
Gardner calls the translation "pedestrian", and reminds the reader of Carroll's Rhyme? And Reason? (also published as Phantasmagoria). Gardner finds also the rest of Aragon's writings on Carroll's nonsense poetry full of factual errors, and cautions the reader that there is no evidence that Aragon intended any of it as a joke.
- La Chasse au Snark, Pierre Seghers, Paris 1949
- The Annotated Snark, edited by Martin Gardner, Penguin Books, 1974
Novels and Short Stories
- Anicet ou le Panorama (1921)
- Les Aventures de Télémaque (1922)
- Le Libertinage (1924)
- Le Paysan de Paris (1926)
- Le Con d'Irène (1927, published under the pseudonym Albert de Routisie)
- Les Cloches de Bâle ("Le Monde réel", 1934)
- Les Beaux Quartiers ("Le Monde réel", 1936, Renaudot Prize winner)
- Les Voyageurs de l'Impériale ("Le Monde réel", 1942)
- Aurélien ("Le Monde réel", 1944)
- Servitude et Grandeur des Français. Scènes des années terribles (1945)
- Les Communistes (6 volumes, 1949-1951 et 1966-1967 - "Le Monde réel")
- La Semaine Sainte (1958)
- La Mise à mort (1965)
- Blanche ou l'oubli (1967)
- Henri Matisse, roman (1971)
- Théâtre/Roman (1974)
- Le Mentir-vrai (1980)
- La Défense de l'infini (1986)
- Les Aventures de Jean-Foutre La Bite (1986)
- Le Musée Grévin, published under the pseudonym François la Colère
- La rose et le réséda
- Feu de joie, 1919
- Le Mouvement perpétuel, 1926
- La Grande Gaîté, 1929
- Persécuté persécuteur, 1930-1931
- Hourra l'Oural, 1934
- Le Crève-Cœur, 1941
- Cantique à Elsa, 1942
- Les Yeux d'Elsa, 1942
- Brocéliande, 1942
- Le Musée Grevin, 1943
- La Diane française, 1945
- En étrange pays dans mon pays lui-même, 1945
- Le Nouveau Crève-Cœur, 1948
- Le Roman inachevé, 1956
- Elsa, 1959
- Les Poètes, 1960
- Le Fou d'Elsa, 1963
- Il ne m'est Paris que d'Elsa, 1964
- Les Chambres, poème du temps qui ne passe pas, 1969
- Une vague de rêves, 1924
- Traité du style, 1928
- Pour un réalisme socialiste, 1935
- J'arrive où je suis étranger poem with music, listenable on-line.
- Ivry, Benjamin (1996). Francis Poulenc, 20th-Century Composers series. Phaidon Press Limited. ISBN 0-7148-3503-X.
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