Desnos, Robert


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Desnos, Robert

(rôbĕr` dĕsnôs`), 1900–1945, French poet. Among the best-known surrealist poets, he was one of the chief proponents of so-called automatic writing. He put himself in a trance before writing many of his works. They include La Liberté ou l'amour [liberty or love] (1927), Corps et Biens [bodies and blessings] (1930), État de veille [wakefulness] (1943), Contrée [thwarted] (1944), Félix Labisse (1945), and Choix de poems [choice of poems] (1945). He also wrote a novel, Le Vin est tiré [the wine is killed] (1943), and a surrealistic drama, La Place de L'étoile (1945). During World War II, Desnos died as a prisoner in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Desnos, Robert

 

Born July 4, 1900, in Paris; died June 8, 1945, in Terezin, Czechoslovakia. French poet.

Desnos was initially a dadaist and later a surrealist. Through the chaos of his “verbal alchemy” shines a genuine passion and rebellious hate for the petit bourgeois way of life (the collection With Body and Soul, 1930). Breaking with the surrealists in 1930, Desnos developed a precise poetic language under the influence of the Popular Front; the language encompassed the folklore of the Paris streets and reflected everyday life with its sorrows and joy of love, purged of morbid sentimentality (the collection Fortunes, 1942). Desnos was arrested in 1944 by the Gestapo as a member of the Resistance and died in a concentration camp. His books Waking (1943) and Country (1944), as well as posthumously published poems, are among the most powerful monuments of the tragic and heroic poetry of that time.

WORKS

Oeuvres choisies: Une étude par P. Berger. Paris [1960].
Domaine public. Paris, 1958.
Calixto, suivi de Contrée. Paris, 1962.
In Russian translation:
“Stikhi.” (Translated into Russian by M. Kudinov with an introduction by S. Velikovskii.) Moscow, 1970.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Buchole, R. L’évolution poétique de R. Desnos. Brussels, 1956.
Tortel, J. R. “Desnos d’aujourd’hui.” Critique, 1965, nos. 219–20.
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