Louis Aragon (French: [lwi aʁaɡɔ̃], 3 October 1897 – 24 December 1982) was a French poet, who was one of the leading voices of the surrealist movement in France, who co-founded with André Breton and Philippe Soupault the surrealist review Littérature. He was also a novelist and editor, a long-time member of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.
|Born||3 October 1897|
|Died||24 December 1982 (aged 85)|
|Notable works||Les Lettres françaises, Pour un réalisme socialiste|
Louis Aragon was born in Paris. He was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, believing them to be his sister and foster mother, respectively. His biological father, Louis Andrieux, a former senator for Forcalquier, was married and thirty years older than Aragon's mother, whom he seduced when she was seventeen. Aragon's mother passed Andrieux off to her son as his godfather. Aragon was only told the truth at the age of 19, as he was leaving to serve in the First World War, from which neither he nor his parents believed he would return. Andrieux's refusal or inability to recognize his son would influence Aragon's poetry later on.
Having been involved in Dadaism from 1919 to 1924, he became a founding member of Surrealism in 1924, with André Breton and Philippe Soupault under the pen-name "Aragon". In the 1920s, Aragon became a fellow traveller of the French Communist Party (PCF) along with several other surrealists, and joined the Party in January 1927. In 1933 he began to write for the party's newspaper, L'Humanité, in the "news in brief" section. He would remain a member for the rest of his life, writing several political poems including one to Maurice Thorez, the general secretary of the PCF. During the World Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture (1935), Aragon opposed his former friend André Breton, who wanted to use the opportunity as a tribune to defend the writer Victor Serge, associated with Leon Trotsky's Left Opposition.
Nevertheless, Aragon was also critical of the USSR, particularly after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1956) during which Joseph Stalin's personality cult was denounced by Nikita Khrushchev.
The French surrealists had long claimed Lewis Carroll as one of their own, and Aragon published his translation of 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 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, who calls the translation "pedestrian" and deems the rest of Aragon's writings on Carroll's nonsense poetry full of factual errors, says that there is no evidence that Aragon intended any of it as a joke.
Apart from working as a journalist for L'Humanité, Louis Aragon also became, along with Paul Nizan, editor secretary of the journal Commune, published by the Association des Écrivains et Artistes Révolutionnaires (Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists), which aimed at gathering intellectuals and artists in a common front against fascism. Aragon became a member of the directing committee of the Commune journal in January 1937, along with André Gide, Romain Rolland and Paul Vaillant-Couturier. The journal then took the name of "French literary review for the defence of culture" (« revue littéraire française pour la défense de la culture »). With Gide's withdrawal in August 1937, Vaillant-Couturier's death in autumn 1937 and Romain Rolland's old age, Aragon became its effective director. In December 1938, he called as chief editor the young writer Jacques Decour. The Commune journal was strongly involved in the mobilization of French intellectuals in favor of the Spanish Republic.
In March 1937, Aragon was called on by the PCF to head the new evening daily, Ce soir, which he was charged with launching, along with the writer Jean-Richard Bloch. Ce soir attempted to compete with Paris-Soir. Outlawed in August 1939, Ce soir was re-opened after the Liberation, and Aragon again became its lead, first with Bloch then alone after Bloch's death in 1947. The newspaper, which counted Emile Danoën among its collaborators, closed in March 1953.
In 1939 he married Russian-born author Elsa Triolet, the sister of Lilya Brik, a mistress and then partner of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. He had met her in 1928, and she became his muse starting in the 1940s. Aragon and Triolet collaborated in the left-wing French media before and during World War II, going underground for most of the German occupation.
Aragon was mobilized in 1939, and awarded the Croix de guerre (War Cross) and the military medal for acts of bravery. After the May 1940 defeat, he took refuge in the Southern Zone. He was one of several poets, along with René Char, Francis Ponge, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Jean Prévost, Jean-Pierre Rosnay, etc., to join the Resistance, both through literary activities and as an actual organiser of Resistance acts.
Otto Abetz was the German governor, and produced a series of "black lists" of authors forbidden to be read, circulated or sold in Nazi Occupied France. These included anything written by a Jew, a communist, an Anglo-Saxon or anyone else who was anti-Germanic or anti-fascist. Aragon and André Malraux were both on these "Otto Lists" of forbidden authors.
During the war, Aragon wrote for the underground press Les Éditions de Minuit and was a member of the National Front Resistance movement. His poetry was published along texts by Vercors (Jean Bruller), Pierre Seghers or Paul Eluard in Switzerland in 1943 after being smuggled out of occupied France by his friend and publisher François Lachenal.
He participated with his wife in the setting-up of the National Front of Writers in the Southern Zone. This activism led him to break his friendly relationship with Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, who had chosen Collaborationism.
Along with Paul Éluard, Pierre Seghers and René Char, Aragon would maintain the memory of the Resistance in his post-war poems. He thus wrote, in 1954, Strophes pour se souvenir in commemoration of the role of foreigners in the Resistance, which celebrated the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de la Main d'Oeuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI).
The theme of the poem was the Red Poster affair, mainly the last letter that Missak Manouchian, an Armenian-French poet and Resistant, wrote to his wife Mélinée before his execution on 21 February 1944. This poem was then set to music by Léo Ferré.
At the Liberation, Aragon became one of the leading Communist intellectuals, assuming political responsibilities in the Comité national des écrivains (National Committee of Writers). He celebrated the role of the general secretary of the PCF, Maurice Thorez, and defended the Kominform's condemnation of the Titoist regime in Yugoslavia.
Sponsored by Thorez, Aragon was elected, in 1950, to the central committee of the PCF. His post, however, did not protect him from all forms of criticism. Thus, when his journal, Les Lettres françaises, published a drawing by Pablo Picasso on the occasion of Stalin's death in March 1953, Aragon was forced to make excuses to his critics, who judged the drawing iconoclastic. Through the years, he had been kept informed of Stalinist repression by his Russian-born wife, and so his political line evolved.
In the days following the disappearance of Ce soir, in March 1953, Aragon became the director of L'Humanité 's literary supplement, Les Lettres françaises. Assisted by its chief editor, Pierre Daix, Aragon started in the 1960s a struggle against Stalinism and its consequences in Eastern Europe. He published the writings of dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn or Milan Kundera. The monetary loss caused by Les Lettres françaises led to its ceasing publication in 1972. It was later re-founded.
In 1956, Aragon supported the Budapest insurrection, provoking the dissolution of the Comité national des écrivains, which Vercors quit. The same year, he was nevertheless granted the Lenin Peace Prize. He now harshly condemned Soviet totalitarianism, opened his magazines to dissidents, and condemned show trials against intellectuals (in particular the 1966 Sinyavsky-Daniel trial). He strongly supported the student movement of May '68, although the PCF was skeptical about it. The crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 led him to a critical preface published in a translation of one of Milan Kundera's books (La Plaisanterie). Despite his criticisms, Aragon remained an official member of the PCF's central committee until his death.
Beside his journalistic activities, Louis Aragon was also CEO of the Editeurs français réunis (EFR) publishing house, heir of two publishing houses founded by the Resistance, La Bibliothèque française and Hier et Aujourd'hui. He directed the EFR along with Madeleine Braun, and in the 1950s published French and Soviet writers commonly related to the "Socialist Realism" current. Among other works, the EFR published André Stil's Premier choc, which owed to the future Goncourt Academician the Stalin Prize in 1953. But they also published other writers, such as Julius Fučík, Vítězslav Nezval, Rafael Alberti, Yánnis Rítsos or Vladimir Mayakovsky. In the beginning of the 1960s, the EFR brought to public knowledge the works of non-Russian Sovietic writers, such as Tchinguiz Aïtmatov, or Russian writers belong to the Khrushchev Thaw, such as Galina Nicolaëva, Yevgeny Yevtushenko's Babi Iar in 1967, etc. The EFR also published the first novel of Christa Wolf in 1964, and launched the poetic collection Petite sirène, which collected works by Pablo Neruda, Eugène Guillevic, Nicolas Guillen, but also less known poets such as Dominique Grandmont, Alain Lance or Jean Ristat.
Free from both his marital and editorial responsibilities (having ended publication of Les Lettres Françaises — L'Humanité's literary supplement — in 1972), Aragon was free to return to his surrealist roots. During the last ten years of his life, he published at least two further novels: Henri Matisse Roman and Les Adieux.
Louis Aragon died on 24 December 1982, his friend Jean Ristat sitting up with him. He was buried in the parc of Moulin de Villeneuve, in his property of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines, alongside his wife Elsa Triolet.
He was and still is a popular poet in France because many of his poems have been set to music and sung by various singers : Lino Léonardi, Hélène Martin, Léo Ferré (the first one to dedicate an entire LP to Aragon, with his 1961 breakthrough Les Chansons d'Aragon album), Jean Ferrat, Georges Brassens, Alain Barrière, Isabelle Aubret, Nicole Rieu, Monique Morelli, Marc Ogeret, et al. Many of his poems put into music by Jean Ferrat have been translated into German by Didier Caesar (alias Dieter Kaiser) and are sung by his Duo.
Aragon's poetry is diverse and varied. He favoured equally poetic prose and fixed-form verse, to which he brought a renewed sensibility. After a very free early period, marked by surrealism and its subversive language, Aragon returned to more classical forms (measured verse; rhyme, even). He felt that this was more in keeping with the national emergency during World War II. After the war, the political side of his poetry gave way more and more to lyricism for its own sake. He never went back on that embrace of classicism. He did however integrate a certain formal freedom with it, sometimes recalling the surrealism of his early days.
Countless poems by Aragon have been set to music and become popular as songs.
As a novelist he encompasses the whole ethos of the twentieth century: surrealist novel, socialist realism, realism, nouveau roman. Indeed, he was one of the founding personalities of the novel of his time.
He was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature four times between 1959 and 1965.
In 2010, La Poste (French Post Office) issued three stamps honoring Louis Aragon.
Ahmadreza Ahmadi (Persian: احمدرضا احمدی) is an Iranian poet and screenwriter.The history of Persian modern poetry calls him the founder of New Wave Poetry in Iran.
Ahmadi was born in 1940 in Kerman, Iran. He moved to Tehran in 1948. In Tehran he attended the Adab school and in 1954 entered Dar ol-Fonoun. Two individuals who according to him have been instrumental to his love for literature are his maternal nephew, the writer Abdolrahim Ahmadi, and his teacher at Dar ul-Fonoun, Mr Mohammad Shirvāni.Ahmadi's first book of poetry, Tarh (Sketch), was published in 1962. His poetry has its roots in French Surrealism and the American Imagists specially in poets like Saint John Perse, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon and Ezra Pound.Aurélien
see also Aurélien (given name), for individuals with the masculine given name.Aurélien [o.ʁe.ljɛ̃] is a novel by Louis Aragon, the fourth of the Le Monde réel cycle. It was ranked 51st in Le Monde's 100 Books of the Century.Georges Malkine
Georges Alexandre Malkine (10 October 1898 – 22 March 1970) was the only visual artist named in André Breton’s 1924 Surrealist Manifesto among those who, at the time of its publication, had “performed acts of absolute surrealism." The rest Breton named were for the most part writers, including Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos, and Benjamin Peret. Malkine's 1926 painting Nuit D'amour was the precursor of the lyrical abstract school of painting.
"He has pushed individualism to the point of impertinence! But what art in his expression of the ineffable whenever he took the pains to do so!" — André Breton
"Georges Malkine has left his delicate mark on the window of time, made as with a diamond, without altering its transparence, without blurring the view, leaving the purest trace that can only be discerned from a certain angle and in a certain light." — Patrick Waldberg (1970)Irene's Cunt
Irene's Cunt (French: Le Con d'Irène) is a short erotic novel written by the French poet and novelist Louis Aragon under the pseudonym Albert de Routisie, first published in 1928. Its title is rendered in English variously as Irene or Irene's Cunt. Jean-Jacques Pauvert has called the novel "one of the four or five most beautiful poetic works produced by surrealism".The novel details the life of a man through his adulthood to old age and the latter half of the text concerns his inner thoughts after he has lost his ability to speak and move due to syphilis.
The first edition was illustrated with etchings by André Masson which were aesthetically very similar to those of Georges Bataille's Story of the Eye. Régine Deforges republished it in 1968 under the title Irène which did not prevent its seizure as pornography.
American novelist William T. Vollmann has cited Irene's Cunt as an influence for his novel The Royal Family. It was adapted by Toméo Vergès for a choreographic work Pas de panique in 1999.Joë Bousquet
Joë Bousquet (French: [buskɛ]; 19 March 1897 – 28 September 1950) was a French poet.
Bousquet was born in Narbonne. Wounded on 27 May 1918 at Vailly near the Aisne battlelines at the end of the First World War, he was paralysed for the rest of his life, and lived a life largely bedridden, surrounded by his books. His physical incapacity and constant pain (for which he took opium) caused a retreat from the world, but also became the starting point for an extensive body of poetry and writing. He contributed poetry to the Carcassonne poetic review Cahiers du Sud, and carried on a correspondence with many writers and friends, including Louis Aragon, André Gide, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, and Simone Weil. He died in Carcassonne, and his home there is now a museum in his memory.
Bousquet became friends with the surrealists, and his poetry is often associated with them. He also purchased paintings by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Jean Fautrier, Wols, André Masson and Hans Bellmer, and was modeled by René Iché and painted by Jean Dubuffet.
His work was admired by many famous French writers of the 20th century, including René Char, Louis Aragon, André Breton, Maurice Blanchot, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and, most notably, Gilles Deleuze.Le Fou d'Elsa
Le Fou d'Elsa is a 1963 novel written by Louis Aragon.Le Paysan de Paris
Le Paysan de Paris is a surrealist book about places in Paris by Louis Aragon which was first published in 1926 by Editions Gallimard.
It was dedicated to the surrealist painter André Masson and its preface was on the theme of a modern mythology. The two main sections of the books describe two places in Paris in great detail: Le Passage de l'Opera and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. The detailed descriptions provide a realistic backdrop for surrealist spectacles such as the transformation of a shop into a seascape in which a siren appears and then disappears. This literary device is le merveilleux quotidien — a contrast of the mundane with the marvellous.Arnold Bennett described the work as stimulating but uneven. He thought it the best of the six books which he bought in Paris when visiting there in 1927. Walter Benjamin was deeply affected by the book, which became a point of departure for his unfinished magnum opus, The Arcades Project. Louis Aragon was disappointed with the book's reception by the French literary establishment which he considered too bourgeois and commercial.Les Chansons d'Aragon
Les Chansons d'Aragon (English: "Songs of Aragon") is an album by Léo Ferré, released in 1961 by Barclay Records. It is his second album dedicated to a poet, after Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal in 1957. Here, Ferré focuses on former surrealist Louis Aragon, but the body of work he chooses (poetry collection Le Roman inachevé, mostly) is not surrealistic.
This album had much more impact than Ferré's first Baudelaire effort, maybe because when it was published Ferré was gaining both success and critical acclaim on stage, and Aragon was an active poet and a controversial committed communist figure in the French intellectual field.Les Lettres Françaises
Les Lettres Françaises (French for "The French Letters") is a French literary publication, founded in 1941 by writers Jacques Decour and Jean Paulhan. Originally a clandestine magazine of the French Resistance in German-occupied territory, it was one of the many publications of the National Front resistance movement. It received contributions from Louis Aragon, François Mauriac, Claude Morgan, Edith Thomas, Georges Limbour, Raymond Queneau and Jean Lescure.
After the Liberation and until 1972, Les Lettres Françaises, managed by Aragon, was financially supported by the French Communist Party. Originally supportive of Stalinism, the paper became critical of the Soviet regime during the 1960s, and ceased publication after losing communist support. It was revived in the 1990s as a monthly literary supplement of the left-wing newspaper L'Humanité.List of Surrealist poets
This is a list of Surrealist poets.Littérature (magazine)
Littérature was a literary and surrealistic magazine edited by André Breton, Philippe Soupault, and Louis Aragon. Its first issue was published on March 19, 1919. Because of dwindling circulation, Breton decided to terminate publication after the August 1921 issue. In March 1922, however, he relaunched the magazine with the cover illustrating a Man Ray drawing of a shiny top hat, and the title, "Littérature: New Series." Breton remained the only one in charge of the review, after the departure of Aragon and Soupault, and to mark the review's change of direction, Breton decided to replace the cover image created by Man Ray with drawings – different each time – by Francis Picabia, to whom he gave carte blanche for each issue. Picabia drew on religious imagery, erotic iconography, and the iconography of games of chance.
In 1923, again because the magazine was not selling enough, Breton decided to limit the publication to special issues, the first of which appeared on October 15, 1923. However, there was only one more of these, in June 1924, before publication ceased altogether.Maison Blanche (Paris Métro)
Maison Blanche is a station of the Paris Métro, serving Line 7. South of this station, the line forks into two branches, one leading to Villejuif – Louis Aragon and the other to Mairie d'Ivry. The station is under the Avenue d'Italie, between the streets of Rue Caillaux and Rue Bourgon, near the Porte d'Italie, a gate in the former Thiers Wall.
It opened as part of a planned section of Line 7, which was temporarily operated as part of Line 10 until the completion of the under-Seine crossing of line 7 from Pont de Sully to Place Monge. On 7 March 1930 the line was extended from Place d'Italie to Porte de Choisy, including Maison Blanche. The station was integrated into line 7 on 26 April 1931. The station is named after the district, which gets its name from a hotel of the same name, which is French for "White House".
An extension of line 14 from Olympiades to Maison Blanche is planned, possibly taking over the branch to Villejuif – Louis Aragon. A possible extension of this line to Orly Airport was also announced by the French government in April 2009.Paris Métro Line 7
Paris Métro Line 7 is one of sixteen lines of the Paris Métro system. Crossing the capital from its north-eastern to south-eastern sections via a moderately curved path, it links La Courneuve – 8 Mai 1945 in the north with Mairie d'Ivry and Villejuif – Louis Aragon in the south, while passing through important parts of central Paris.
Line 7 began operating in 1910 and, along with Line 13, is one of only two Métro lines that has a branch. Originally located in the northeast and splitting at Louis Blanc, it was transferred in 1967 to what is now Line 7bis. In 1982, a new branch was added in the southeast to Mairie d'Ivry, branching off at Maison Blanche. Line 7 has only steel rails.
At 18.6 km (12 mi), Line 7 is one of the longest in the Paris Métro network. In addition, it contains the most stations as well as being the third most-used line of the Métro, with 120.7 million riders in 2004.Surrealist Manifesto
Three Surrealist Manifestos were issued during the Surrealist movement, in 1924 and 1929. Two were written by André Breton, who also drafted a third Surrealist manifesto which was never issued. One was written by Yvan Goll (1924).Un Cadavre
Un Cadavre (A Corpse) was the name of two separate surrealist pamphlets published in France in October 1924, and January 1930, respectively.Villejuif – Louis Aragon (Paris Métro)
Villejuif – Louis Aragon is a station of the Paris Métro, located in the commune of Villejuif. The station opened on 28 February 1985 when Line 7 was extended from Le Kremlin-Bicêtre and serves the commune of Villejuif as the southwestern terminus of Paris Métro Line 7.
The station is named after the Avenue Louis Aragon and Louis Aragon (1897–1982) a French writer. The station is also the northern terminus of tram line T7, which opened on 16 November 2013.
An extension of line 14 from Olympiades to Maison Blanche is planned, possibly taking over the branch to Villejuif – Louis Aragon. The French government announced in April 2009 a possible extension of this line to Orly Airport and eastern and western circular metro lines around Paris, connecting in the south at Villejuif – Louis Aragon.Villejuif – Léo Lagrange (Paris Métro)
Villejuif – Léo Lagrange is a station of the Paris Métro, located on Line 7. It serves the commune of Villejuif. It was opened when Line 7 was extended from Le Kremlin-Bicêtre to Villejuif – Louis Aragon on 28 February 1985. The station is named after Léo Lagrange (1900–1940), a French socialist politician and under-secretary of state for sport, who helped organise the People's Olympiad in Barcelona in opposition to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and died during the Battle of France. The station is decorated with sporting exhibits.Villejuif – Paul Vaillant-Couturier (Paris Métro)
Villejuif – Paul Vaillant-Couturier is a station of the Paris Métro, located on Line 7. It serves the commune of Villejuif. It was opened when Line 7 was extended from Le Kremlin-Bicêtre to Villejuif – Louis Aragon on 28 February 1985.
It is named after the Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier and the journalist Paul Vaillant-Couturier (1892–1937) who was a journalist, politician and editor of the Communist newspaper l’Humanité.Île-de-France tramway Line 7
Île-de-France tramway Line 7 (usually called simply T7) is part of the modern tram network of the Île-de-France region of France. Line T7 connects Villejuif – Louis Aragon Paris Métro station in Villejuif and Athis-Mons (Porte de l'Essonne) South of Paris. It also serves Paris Orly Airport. The line has a length of 11.2 km (7.0 mi) and 18 stations. It opened to the public on 16 November 2013.
Line T7 is operated by the Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP) under the autority of Île-de-France Mobilités.