Paul Éluard (1895-1952) was one of the founders of the Surrealist movement and one of the foremost lyric poets of the 20th century. His poetry is concerned with sexual desire and the desire for social change. He was a close associate of Surrealist poets André Breton, Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault between the wars. Experiments with new verbal techniques, theories on the relation between dream and reality, and the free expression of thought processes produced Capitale de la douleur (Capital of Sorrow, 1926), his first important work, which was followed by La Rose publique (The Public Rose, 1934) and Les Yeux fertiles (The Fertile Eyes, 1936), among the most significant books of poetry produced by the Surrealist movement. He also explored the progress of mental disorders in L’Immaculée Conception (with André Breton, 1930). He abandoned much of his Surrealist practice after the Spanish Civil War. He joined the Communist Party during the war and worked actively in the Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris as well as writing poetry to inspire the French people. Caught between the horrors of Stalinism and post-war, right-wing anti-communism, his writing sustains an insistent vision of poetry as a multi-faceted weapon against injustice and oppression. For Éluard, poetry is a way of inﬁltrating the reader with greater emotional awareness of the social problems of the modern world.
Paul Éluard was the pseudonym of Eugène Grindel. He had three great loves in his life: Gaia (Helena Daikonova) whom he met at the age of 16 in a Swiss sanatorium where they were being treated for TB, and who later left him for Salvador Dalì; the Surrealist associate Nusch (Maria Benz); and Dominique Lemort, whom he married in 1951. Unbroken Poetry II, published posthumously in 1953, pays tribute to Dominique Éluard, with whom Paul spent the last years of his life. It traces the internal dialogues of a passionate relationship as well as of his continuing re-evaluation of the poetic project it-self. It centres on political commitment and places it at the heart of the lovers’ desire.
Books by Paul Éluard