Paul Vaillant-Couturier

Vaillant-Couturier, Paul

 

Born Jan. 8, 1892, in Paris; died there on Oct. 10, 1937. French writer; active in the Communist movement.

Vaillant-Couturier was born into a family of actors. He graduated from the law faculty of the University of Paris and later fought in World War I (1914-18). He belonged to the left internationalist wing of the socialist party and was a founder of the Republican Association of Former Frontline Soldiers in 1917. Vaillant-Couturier responded to the events of the war years with the novella On Furlough (1919; Russian translation, 1926), the collection of stories A Soldier’s War (1919; with R. Lefebvre; Russian translation, 1923), the autobiographical Letters to My Friends (1920), and the collections of poems XIII Macabre Dances (1920) and Red Trains (1923).

Vaillant-Couturier enthusiastically welcomed the Great October Socialist Revolution. He was one of the founders of the French Communist Party (FCP) in 1920. In 1921 he was elected to the Central Committee and later to the Politbureau of the Central Committee of the FCP. He was a delegate of the FCP to the Third Congress of the Comintern in Moscow in 1921. From 1926 to 1937 he was editor in chief of L’Humanité, the central organ of the Central Committee of the FCP.

In the collection of stories The Blindmen’s Ball (1927; Russian translation, 1929) and the tragical farce Father July (1927, with L. Moussinac), Vaillant-Couturier criticized in a satirical and grotesque manner different aspects of bourgeois society. Vaillant-Couturier was a prominent fighter against war and fascism; he attended the International Antiwar Congress in Amsterdam in 1932 and international writers’ congresses in defense of culture in 1935 and 1937. He vigorously opposed the fascist intervention in republican Spain. His work In the Service of Reason (1937) is a programmatic document of the FCP on questions of culture. A true friend of the USSR, Vaillant-Couturier published the books A Month in Red Moscow (1925) and The Builders of a New Life (1932). He is the author of numerous articles and essays, the journalistic book The Misfortune of Being Young (1935; Russian translation, 1935), and the autobiographical Childhood (1938, posthumously; Russian translation, 1939). Vaillant-Couturier’s best works are in the style of socialist realism.

WORKS

Poésie. Oeuvres choisies. Paris, 1938.
Nous ferons se lever le jour. Paris, 1947.
Oeuvres choisies. Moscow, 1959.
Vaillant-Couturier écrivain: Textes littéraires choisies et présentés par A. Stil. Paris, [1967].
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Leningrad, 1939.
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1956.

REFERENCES

Torez, M. Syn naroda. Moscow, 1960.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Narkir’er F. Frantsuzskaia revoliutsionnaia literatura (1914-1924). Moscow, 1965. (Contains a bibliography.)
Fomenko. L. “Ia grozd’ s ikh lozy.” In Leninskaia gvardiia planety. Moscow, 1967.

F. S. NARKIR’ER

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