Saint-John Perse

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Perse, Saint-John


(pen name of Alexis Léger). Born May 31, 1887, on the island of Guadeloupe; died Sept. 20, 1975, in Giens, department of Var. French poet and diplomat.

Perse came from a family of colonists who settled in Guadeloupe in the 17th century. He was educated in Bordeaux and Paris. In 1916 he entered the diplomatic service.

Perse’s attraction to epic and national traditions and to the unchanging values of the civilizations of the East gave him a special place in modern French culture. His images for Crusoe (1909) avoided complex modernist imagery. Perse used P. Claudel’s poetic form, the prose verset, inspired by biblical verse. He based his own verset not on free verse (vers libre) but on traditional French metrics. Perse’s poem Anabasis (1924) celebrated nature and the eternal values of the spirit, which he contrasted to the bourgeois reality of the Third Republic.

During the fascist German occupation of France (1940–44), Perse was dismissed from office and deprived of his citizenship by the Pétain government; his unpublished narrative poems written between 1924 and 1940 were destroyed. Fleeing by way of England to the USA, he helped inspire the Resistance with the cycles Exile (1942) and Winds (1946), which are permeated with the spirit of national freedom. His works written during this period, despite their abstract political ideas and obscure poetic vocabulary, made him one of France’s national poets. Perse expressed the progressive idea of restoring the homeland’s greatness in the narrative poems Seamarks (1957), Chronicle (1960), and Birds (1963), He was awarded the Nobel Prize (1960).


Oeuvre poétique[vols.] 1–2. Paris, 1960.
Pour Dante. [Paris, 1965.]
In Russian translation:
In la pishu tvoe imia, Svoboda. Moscow, 1968.


Balashov, N. I. “Sen-Zhon Pers.” In Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Polianskii, N. N. “O strukture stikha Sen-Zhon Persa.” Nauahnye doklady vysshei shkoly: Filologicheskie nauki, 1968, no. 1.
Caillois, R. Poétique de Saint-John Perse. Paris, 1962.
Bosquet, A. Saint-John Perse. Paris, 1964.
Honneur à Saint-John Perse: Hommages et témoignages littéraires. Paris, 1965.
Knodel, A. Saint-John Perse. Edinburgh [1966].
Racine, D. La Fortune de Saint-John Perse en Amérique jusqu’en 1970. [Lille] 1973. (Contains bibliography.)
Little, R. Saint-John Perse. [London, 1973.]


References in periodicals archive ?
Saint-John Perse (1887-1975) was pseudonym of French poet-diplomat Alexis Leger who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960.
Tambien Echavarria registra que ese desempeno "llego a la cota mas alta en la obra del Nobel frances Saint-John Perse, quien noblemente reconocio la maestria de las versiones".
Guillermo Sucre tradujo Estrechos son los navios, de Saint-John Perse.
La oposicion entre la imagen de Saint-John Perse en su madurez y la del presente del relato, se acentua cuando el narrador-periodista reconstruye, con enorme erudicion, la historia personal del poeta y anota: "no hay en ella derrota ni infortunios".
Dice Rafael Gutierrez Girardot: "la impronta modernista de la lengua literaria de Zalamea Borda posibilito la recepcion y la traduccion de Saint-John Perse (17)".
Orphan narratives; the postplantation literature of Faulkner, Glissant, Morrison, and Saint-John Perse.
A esta cuestion se dedica particularmente uno de los capitulos mas sugerentes y bellos del libro, aquel que trata de dos poemas de igual titulo (Anabasis), escritos por Saint-John Perse y Paul Celan, los cuales derivan a su vez de la obra homonima de Jenofonte, centrada en la "ascension" y el retorno de un ejercito de mercenarios griegos perdido en tierras persas.
Arranged in five sections, the texts include quotations from the Bible, Native Americans, Carl Sandburg, Kahlil Gibran, Alexander Scriabin, Saint-John Perse, William Shakespeare, Kabir and William Blake.
In English, a more enlightening introduction to Durey's song output can be found in Graham Johnson's extended liner notes to his recording, accompanying Francois Le Roux, in various songs, including the exquisite cycle of 1918 setting Saint-John Perse, Images a Crusoe (Hyperion 67257 [CD], 2002).
Ecriture et desecriture du texte poetique: DeMaurice Sceve Saint-John Perse.
He appeared to change his personality, adopting a pseudonym to become the famous poet Saint-John Perse.
Eliot, William Shakespeare, Saint-John Perse, Paul Eluard, Paul Valery, William Faulkner and Graham Greene.