Eugène Pottier

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pottier, Eugène


Born Oct. 4, 1816, in Paris; died there Nov. 6, 1887. French poet and songwriter. Member of the First International and the Paris Commune of 1871.

Pottier began working early in life. His first poems were written during the July Revolution of 1830. In that year he published the collection of songs The Young Muse, which was favorably reviewed by P. J. de Béranger. The Revolution of 1848 also inspired Pottier.

The most important period in Pottier’s life and work began during the period of the Paris Commune of 1871. He took part in defending Paris against German troops and was a member of the central committee of the national guard. At this time he abandoned the ideas of Utopian socialism for a revolutionary and materialist world view, and from a champion of the oppressed poor became a poet of the revolutionary proletariat. As one of the organizers of the commune, Pottier fought on the barricades; after its rout he fled to Great Britain and then to the USA.

In June 1871, while in the Paris underground, Pottier had written the “Internationale,” which became the international anthem of the revolutionary working class. In America he wrote three narrative poems: The Workingmen of America to the Workingmen of France (1876, in English), The Paris Commune (1877), and The Workers’ Party (written 1878, published 1898).

In 1880, Pottier returned to France, joined the Workers’ Party, and in 1884 published the collections Socioeconomic Poems and Socialist Revolutionary Songs and Which Is the Madman?; the collection Revolutionary Songs appeared in 1887. These publications included his best songs and poems. In V. I. Lenin’s words, Pottier was “one of the greatest propagandists by song” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 22, p. 274).


Oeuvres complètes. Paris, 1966. (Contains bibliography.)
In Russian translation:
Pesni, stikhi, poemy, 2nd. ed. Moscow, 1971.


Lenin, V. I. “Evgenii Pot’e.” Poln. sobr. soch. 5th ed., vol. 22.
Danilin, lu. I. “Ezhen Pot’e.” In his book Poety Parizhskoi Kommuny. Moscow, 1966.
Dmitriev, V. Poet-kommunar: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo E Pot’e. Moscow, 1966.
Museux, E. Les défenseurs du proletariat: Eugène Pettier et son oeuvre. Paris, 1898.
Gel, F. Hlas vzdoru [2nd ed.]. Prague [1971].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Commune's principles of voluntary federation and free association, centred on their notion of 'the Universal Republic' that went 'beyond the cellular regime of nationality', are explored through the likes of the Women's Union for the Defence of Paris and Aid to the Wounded; famed shoemaker Napoleon Gaillard, philosopher of the shoe, builder and artist of the barricade, and inventor of rubber galoshes; and Eugene Pottier, decorative artist, champion of integral education and author of the 'International' which he dedicated to fellow Communard Gustave Lefrancais.
Eugene Pottier reputedly wrote the first draft of the song in September, 1870, before the Paris Commune, going into exile after the destruction of the Commune and later revising it.
As the workers were being murdered, executed in batches in the streets by the troops of the Versaillais, Eugene Pottier, an elected member of the Commune, member of the Federation of Artists and the International Workingmen's Association, penned the words to what would become a working-class cry of defiance, the most dangerous song in the world: "L'Internationale" (The International).