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Louis Aragon

I’m not presenting a book this time, but a French author, and more precisely a poet and a novelist.

I believe I discovered him when I was in Première, the French last year of school (during my time) before taking the French literature exam – which was traditionally taken a year before all the other tests. We had to study a rather long lists of authors and works during the year, and at the 1st part of the exam, the Oral one, the member of the jury would pick up at random one text. I had to present and explain this beautiful poem by Aragon. I was in luck, as I loved this poem very much:

Il n’aurait fallu
Qu’un moment de plus
Pour que la mort vienne
Mais une main nue
Alors est venue
Qui a pris la mienne

Qui donc a rendu
Leurs couleurs perdues
Aux jours aux semaines
Sa réalité
A l’immense été
Des choses humaines

Moi qui frémissais
Toujours je ne sais
De quelle colère
Deux bras ont suffi
Pour faire à ma vie
Un grand collier d’air

Rien qu’un mouvement
Ce geste en dormant
Léger qui me frôle
Un souffle posé
Moins une rosée
Contre mon épaule

Un front qui s’appuie
A moi dans la nuit
Deux grands yeux ouverts
Et tout m’a semblé
Comme un champ de blé
Dans cet univers

Un tendre jardin
Dans l’herbe où soudain
La verveine pousse
Et mon cœur défunt
Renaît au parfum
Qui fait l’ombre douce

Il n’aurait fallu
Qu’un moment de plus
Pour que la mort vienne
Mais une main nue
Alors est venue
Qui a pris la mienne

For an approximate English translation, you can listen to this great French singer.

This poem is part of a collection. Now I can’t remember why a few months ago I felt like reading Aragon again. Unfortunately, I could not find this book here in the US. Instead, I found another book entitled Le Fou d’Elsa, written in 1963.

Here is the synopsis, according to wikipedia:

“In this book Aragon’s intellectual work is reflected through the description of Arabic and Muslim culture in both poetry and prose. Aragon describes the relationships between the Muslim and Catholic world at the time of Inquisition in Spain by using the fall of Granada and the escape of Boabdil in front of Isabella the Catholic as a background.

As most of the books of Aragon, Le Fou d’Elsa is a book about love. Aragon announces a new woman to come, a woman called Elsa, in the quote “Woman is the future of man”. But Le Fou d’Elsa is not only about love. The book is also a description of the beginnings of the depression of the Muslim world, first with the fall of Granada until the colonization.

Le Fou d’Elsa represents a political opinion as the book was written at the time of decolonization in France.

Nowadays, Le Fou d’Elsa is still a great book talking about tolerance and the treasures of all the different cultures.”

Here are a few passages I wanted to share with my French reading readers:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon (1897-1982)

Poet, novelist, and essayist, a founder of Surrealism with Paul Éluard, André Breton, Luis Buñuel, and others. Aragon’s work reflects the principal trends of thought of the 20th century – he was also a political activist and spokesman for communism. His influence on the theory of the novel and on poetic theory was considerable.

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.

You can read more about his life here.

HAVE YOU READ ANY POEM BY ARAGON?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE FRENCH POET ?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

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name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

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