Biography of Jacques Prévert (1900-1977)

Poet, playwright, filmmaker and French lyricist, born Neuilly-sur-Seine (in the suburban area of Paris) in 1900, and died in the gala capital in 1977. His condition, multi-faceted and versatile artist always abreast of any aesthetic innovation, made him one of the principal disseminators of the avant-garde currents that flourished in Europe during the first third of the 20th century (in particular, of the surrealist movement, in whose origins intervened directly own Prévert). In addition, in the various artistic manifestations that could approach left a brave and sincere, work aimed at a wide range of receivers who share with him their concern for Justice, freedom and happiness.

Born in a family of limited financial resources, it barely received academic much more extensive training that can teach at the elementary school. Soon was forced to drop out of school to accept any job that is offered, in Paris, at the time that began to give himself vigorously to the cultivation of poetic creation. Little by little he began joining some youth literary circles of the French capital, where locked contact with certain artists who, in a few years, would become the center of intellectual and cultural activity in Europe.

Thus, he met the painter Yves Tanguy and writer George Duhamel, with whom he shared room starting from 1924, in a house in the rue du Château, which, in those years, he became one of the main meeting places of the French Surrealists. He was also closely linked to the poet and Narrator Raymond Queneau and other surrealists such as Georges Sadoul; but soon abandoned the aesthetics of this movement - with whose philosophical thinking and political affiliation had never been fully in agreement - to continue solo his creative activity, characterized from this first stage by its radical independence and his commitment with human being, apart from any aesthetic, political or philosophical trend.

Until then, Jacques Prévert had left a poetry characterized by the sensitivity of the author when it comes to reflect the more lyrical aspects of daily life, living within a strong surrealist formal influence that will continue to present in many of his later works (even after 1930, year in which definitely broke with surrealism) spontaneously.

His first big success in the French literary scene was the publication, in 1931, of a long fantastic poem in which the wealth of rhetorical figures of speech (particularly the calambur and antithesis) put at the service of an argument nonsensical, still very dependent on influences avant-garde assumed initially as the creator. In those years he triumphed as a dramatic writer, also thanks to the composition of short pieces that were put on stage by the theatre section of the literary group Octobre. In addition, began to cultivate another artistic side that ultimately would be that greater international relief would give: cinema.

In fact, Jacques Prévert worked closely with the Parisian director Jean Renoir in the writing of the screenplay for the crime of Monsieur Lange (1935) and, above all, Marcel Carné, who wrote the screenplays for Jenny (1936), a singular drama (1937), the quay of the fogs (1938) and children of Paradise (1944). She wrote some of these scripts in collaboration with his brother Pierre.

A third stage in the artistic life of Jacques Prévert was opened at the end of the second world war, when, from the firm intention of staying apart from political disputes, and intellectual debates that committed almost all the creators of your environment, printing gave a splendid collection of poems entitled words (1945). In a kind of public statement about the goals which moved his creative breath since he started writing his first poems, Prévert was strengthening, finally, comprehensive proposal of his varied artistic work: needed to recover the power of the simple and popular language (the word that gives the book its title) to pursue that happiness, both individual and collective, that can be found in small daily events. But this pursuit of happiness through the naturalness of language and immediacy of everyday life does not-at least in the proposed Poetics of Prévert - a total rejection of stylistic resources which can enrich a message, especially when they are used to highlight the enormous popular creativity when creating an unusual image or loaded in a good mood linguistic turns and double intent.

After the overwhelming success of words, Jacques Prévert returned to the shelves of the libraries with other books of poetry written in the same vein, as the graduates stories (1946), spectacle (1951), rain and good weather (1955). This honest and sincere poetic production (which, from the humility of his own presentation to the reader, only seemed to have harsh words against the ruling political class and the powerful institutions), soon gave Prévert a well-deserved prestige as brave and libertarian, author always in favor of the disadvantaged classes and against any instance of power that could push the most humble. In addition, in its firm commitment to the happiness of man, the poet cried in his verses for a world in which love, freedom, and the evocative capacity of imagination not him was denied to the less fortunate.

But this serene and serious commitment - close, at times, to the authentic compassion-with the common people is not at odds, in the literary work of Jacques Prevért, a constant appeal to the sense of humour, able to heal many wounds. And it is through this window always on the field of humor by where slip again and again these surrealistic bursts which, in fact, never abandoned completely the artistic creation of the author, in any of its manifestations. This can be seen, especially in some late Prévert works which, by their very nature close to the technique of collage, allow better than others the emergence of this fresh Gale of surreal humour: Fatras (1966) and things and others (1972).

Apart from his dedication to poetry, theatre and cinema, Jacques Prévert also dealt with the composition of lyrics for songs, some of which became very popular in the mouth of the main French singers of the time (such as Juliette Grecó, who made world famous a letter composed by Prevert and Joseph Kosma: "Les feuilles mortes" ["dead leaves"]). It was at the end of his prolific artistic life when Prévert turned in this his work as lyricist, embodied in other many famous songs (as "Barbara") and, above all, in a posthumous collection that went out under the title of fifty songs Prévert-Kosma (1977). In addition, the poet of Neuilly-sur-Seine composed some lyrics to children's songs (collected then, also to posthumously, in song to sing loudly and the foot hold of 1985). It was not the first time that it had approached genres aimed specifically at one younger audience, as demonstrated was in an edition of his children's stories, which, under the title of tales for children, was born a few days after the death of the poet.