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Selected Poems (A Calderbook, CB435) Paperback – 1 Mar 1988

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Product details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Calder Publications Ltd; Reprint edition (1 Mar. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714539953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714539959
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 644,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

A humanitarian of the first order, Paul Eluard wrote very
beautifully of his loves and passionately of his desires for a better world
based on peace, justice and social welfare. He also wrote with great humour
about human beings and their foibles.

He was born on the 14th December 1895 in the Parisian working-class suburb
of Saint-Denis. His real name was Eugène-Emile-Paul Grindel, but in 1916 he
borrowed his maternal grandmother's surname and called himself Paul Eluard.
As a youth he read widely and acquainted himself with many poets chiefly,
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Lautrèamont and Appollinaire and the English

In 1917 he fell in love with and subsequently married Elena Dmitievna
Diakanova, a Russian Girl nicknamed Gala - his first love, who later left
him for the artist Salvador Dali. Her place was taken by Maria Benz, known
as Nusch - an Alsation woman who became his second wife in 1929. They
stayed together till Nusch's death in 1946.

Like many sensitive artists of his generation, his experiences of the First
World War had left him horrified by its cruelty and apparent futility and
prompted him to become a pacifist. Like others, Eluard had become
disillusioned with the values of the previous generation and in 1919 he
threw his lot in with the Dada movement which had been launched by Tristan
Tzara. It was a movement which challenged all established values and
assumptions - a rejection of convention which preached about revolt. For
Eluard, Loius Aragon, André Breton and Phillipe Soupault, Dada was only a
starting point and it was not long before they eagerly sought a more
positive philosophy.

In the 1920's, Eluard joined the burgeoning Surrealist movement,
contributing to the Surrealist's first manifesto in 1924. In the years
leading up to the Second World War Eluard's left-wing tendencies grew. He
joined the French Communist Party and became a member of the vigilance
committee of anti-Fascist intellectuals. His greater political awareness
led to him gradually moving away from Surrealism.

From the middle of the 1930s onwards, there was a marked changed in the
style of Eluard's writing. His love poetry was more direct and an
increasing number of poems reflected Eluard's concern with the threat of
fascism and war. The Second World War continued this process. Eluard aided
the anti-nazi resistance movement by helping with the printing and
distribution of countless leaflets, and above all writing poems about hope,
France, the struggle against the occupiers and the new meaning of love.
Some of his most renowned work from this period include the famous poem
Liberté (Liberty), dropped by the RAF on occupied France during the war to
boost morale and resistance.

After the war, Eluard's international fame was at its highest. He continued
to write many volumes of poetry until his death in 1952. A truly gifted and
profound poet who discovered that the great secret of genuine poetry is the
knowledge that men need to be united, to hope, to struggle - in order to
explain the world and to change it.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Éluard writes beautiful poetry and this is a really good translation. The book's worth it for 'Liberté' alone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Selected Poems- Paul Eluard 29 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a good primer for anyone interested in a brief survey of Paul Eluard's writing from the early 20s through the time of his death. The foreword by Max Adereth, about 19 pages, summerizes his life and the styalistic changes in his writing.
The main problem is its brevity. There are too few examples from each period and not nearly enough from his early Dada/Surrealist period.
Woman in Love
She is standing on my eyes
And her hair is in my hair;
She has the figure of my hands
And the color of my sight.
She is swallowed in my shade
Like a stone against the sky.
She will never close her eyes
And will never let me sleep;
And her dreams in day's full light
Make the suns evaporate,
Make me laugh and cry and laugh,
Speak when I have nought to say.
If you like the translation of that poem, then this book may be for you (I would have said 'nothing' instead of 'naught'). At any rate, it will point you to other collections for deeper delving.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of the absolute best surrealist poets 27 Oct. 2005
By J from NY - Published on
Format: Paperback
Along with a few other poets who were in the surrealist group formally but had to maintain a healthy distance from time to time in order to maintain their intellectual integrity (Rene Char, Soupault, Robert Desnos), Eluard comes extremely close to being the very best. That is to say: no matter what highs and lows occur with Surrealist Marketing, his work will stand on it's own, over and apart from the glossy franchise that has been made of Breton and the gang. Eluard was a poet from top to bottom, in the league of the greats; his constant focus is on love and life, choosing to "affirm rather than question" in the Rilkean tradition. He writes in broken, rhythmic couplets which violate traditional form and each combination packs a huge emotional wallop:

"Your eyes in which I travel

Have given to signs along the roads

A meaning alien to the earth

In your eyes who reveal to us

Our endless solitude.."

Sometimes Eluard's greatness is interrupted by what one can only call narcissism of a sort, a turning away from everything except what he feels about himself, or remembers about himself, etc. But this is his only failing. More than highly recommended, to miss Eluard is to miss one of the greatest poets of the 20th cenutry. So there!
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