Paul Éluard

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16th century · 17th century
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20th century · Contemporary

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Paul Éluard was the pen name of Eugène Émile Paul Grindel (14 December 1895 – 18 November 1952), a French poet who was one of the founders of the surrealist movement.



He was born in Saint-Denis, Seine-Saint-Denis, just outside of Paris, son of Clément Grindel and wife Jeanne Cousin. At age 16, after a happy childhood, Éluard contracted tuberculosis and interrupted his studies. He met Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, whom he married in 1917, in the Swiss sanatorium of Davos. Together they had a daughter named Cécile. Around this time Éluard wrote his first poems. He was particularly inspired by Walt Whitman. In 1918, Jean Paulhan “discovered” him and introduced him to André Breton and Louis Aragon. This was his introduction to the Surrealist movement.

After a marital crisis, he travelled, returning to France in 1924. His poems of this time reflect his difficulties during the period, in which he had another bout of tuberculosis and separated from Gala when she left him for Salvador Dalí.

In 1934, he married Nusch (Maria Benz), a model of friends Man Ray and Pablo Picasso, who was considered somewhat of a mascot of the surrealist movement. During World War II, he was involved in the French Resistance. He battled also with his poems, such as his 1942 poem Liberty and Les sept poèmes d'amour en guerre (1944). His work was quite militant, yet simple.

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