Paul Éluard (born Eugène Grindel) (1895 - 1952)
French poet, born in Saint-Denis in 1895. Struck by the First World War, Éluard became a pacifist militant (Poèmes pour la paix, 1918). In 1920, he met Tzara, Breton, and Aragon, and participated in the Dada movement, prior to leaving on a long trip around the world. Upon his return he re-joined the surrealists, over whom he had a profound influence, all the while maintaining a personal approach to literature (he remained wary of automatic writing, for example). He met and married Maria Benz (Nusch Éluard), which became one of the most important events in his life as she was the inspiration for three collections: Capitale de la douleur (1926), L’amour, La poésie (1929), and La verité immédiate (1932), in which Éluard celebrated impassioned love with subtlety and vigor.
Éluard was barred from the communist party after a falling-out between himself and Aragon. He then pursued work on poetry that was accessible to all, in spite of being rich in images and innuendo (Les yeux fertiles, 1936). He joined the Resistance, and yet continued his creative work (La victoire de Guernica, 1938, Poésie et vérité, 1942, which contained most notably the poem Liberté). After the Liberation and Nusch’s brutal death (in 1946), he published a number of other collections in which he expressed his hope of seeing the birth of a humanity freed of its murderous tendencies. An impassioned humanist, both tender and profound, Éluard left a vast work after his death that evoked a profound attachment to beings and things, as well as a spirited vision of love. Éluard died in Charenton-le-Pont in 1952.