July 21, 2011

Paul Éluard [Eugène Émile Paul Grindel]

Paul Éluard [Eugène Émile Paul Grindel] [France]

Paul Éluard, the pen name of Eugène Émile Paul Grindel, was born in Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb on December 14, 1895. At the age 16, the boy contracted tuberculosis and was forced to stop his studies.

In 1917 he married "Gala" Elena Ivanova Diakonova in a Swiss sanatorium in Davos, where he was seeking treatment for his condition. Together they had a daughter, Cécile.

Inspired by Walt Whitman, Éluard soon began writing poems. As early as 1918 poet Jean Paulhan read some of his poems, claiming his as a "discovery," and introducing him to André Breton and Louis Aragon, and, through them, to the Surrealist movement, of which Éluard would become one of its most prolific and famous figures.

In 1921, Éluard collaborated with the German Dadaist poet Max Ernst, and the next year he and his wife illegally offered the German resident a place in their house, where the three lived in a menage a trois relationship, resulting, ultimately in a marital separation and a period of travels by the poet, during which it was rumored that the poet had died. Éluard traveled over a period of years to Tahiti, Indonesia, and Ceylon.

Returning to France in 1924, Éluard suffered another bout of tuberculosis, and a tumultuous period in his relationship, reflected in his writings, and ending with his separation of Gala, she forming a relationship with the painter-author, Salvador Dalí. Éluard and Gala legally divorced in 1932.

In 1934 Éluard married the model Nusch (Maria Benz), a mutual friend of the poet's close associates Man Ray and Pablo Picasso. For a while Nusch served almost as a "mascot" for the Surrealist cause.

With the rise of Nazism and the French occupation, Éluard became involved in the French Resistance, also publishing numerous poems about the War in Liberty, Les sept poèmes d'amour en guerre (1944) and En avril 1944: Paris respirait encore! (1945). Already in 1942, Éluard had turned away from Surrealism through his political activities, joining, that year, the French Communist Party, and going so far a few years later as to eulogize Stalin and to approve of the hanging of his own friend, the Prague writer Zavis Kalandra in 1950.

In 1946 Nusch died, Éluard's grief being expressed in the work "Le temps déborde." Her passing only reiterated Éluard's sense of political action. He joined the Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Warsaw in 1948, persuading his friend, Picasso, to join him.

In 1947 he attend the Congress of Peace in Mexico, where he met Dominque Laure, marrying her in 1951.

The poet died of a heart attack in 1952. He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Premeirs poèmes (1913); Le devoir (1916); Le devoir et l'inquiètude (1917); Poèmes pour la paix (1918); Les nécessités d'une view et les conséquences des rêves (1921); Mourir de ne pas mourir (1924); Capitale de la douleur (1926); L'Amour la poésie (1929); I'Immaculée conception [with André Breton] (Paris: Éditions surréalistes, 1930); Ralentir travaux (Paris: Editions surréalistes, 1930); La vie immédiate (1932); La rose publique (Paris: Gallimard, 1934); Cinq poèmes de Paul Éluard (Paris: Editions Durand, 1935); Les yeux fertiles (Paris: GLM, 1936); Livre ouvert (1940); Poésie et vérité (Alger: Les Editions de la revue Fontaine, 1942); Choix de poèmes 1914-1941 (Paris: Gallimard, 1943); Médieuses: poèmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1944); Au rendezvous allemand (1944); Liberté (Paris: GLM, 1946); Poésie ininterrompue (Paris: Gallimard, 1946); Poèmes politiques (Paris: Gallimard, 1948); Une lecon de morale: poèmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1949); Le Dur Désir de durer (1950); Poèmes pour tous. Choix de poèmes 1917-1952 (Paris: Editeurs français réunis, 1952); Dernières poèmes d'amour (1963); Oeuvres complètes (1968)


Misfortunes of the Immortals (New York: The Black Sun Press, 1943); Selected Writings (New York: New Directions, 1951); Capital of Pain, trans. by Richard M. Weisman (New York: Grossman, 1973; reprinted Boston: Black Window Press, 2006); Selected Poems (London: Calder/New York: Riverrun Press, 1988); Last Love Poems of Paul Éluard (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980); The Immaculate Conception [with André Breton] (London: Atlas, 1990); Ralentir travux (Slow under construction) (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Exact Change, 1990); Seconde nature (London: Circle Press, 1990); Ombres et soleil: Shadows and Sun: Selected Writings of 1913-1952 (Durham, New Hampshire: Oyster River Press, 1995); Unbroken poetry II = Poésie ininterrompue II (Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Bloodaxe Books, 1996); A Moral Lesson, trans. by Lisa Lubasch (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2007)

For a selection of Éluard's poetry from A Moral Lesson, click below:

For a sung rendition of the poet's poet "Liberté," sung in English, click below:

For a reading of Éluard's "Liberté" in French by actor Jean-Louis Barrault, click below:

For a performance in English of Breton's and Éluard's "The Immaculate Conception,"
click below:

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