Biography of Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960)

Poet and French Narrator, born in Narbonne (in the Department of Aude) on September 13, 1889 and died in Solesmes (in the Department of Sarthe) on June 17, 1960. Author of an extensive and dazzling lyrical production that surprises with its original desire of transgression, is considered one of the great forerunners of surrealism and one of the most unique and eloquent of the French avant-garde literature.

Life and work

Encouraged by his lively intellectual curiosity and his eagerness to integrate into the main forums and cenacles of the literary landscape of his time, he/she left his hometown and settled in Paris on October 3, 1910. His intention to soon relate to the young Parisian artists led him to settle in the artistic and bohemian neighborhood of Montmartre - first in the rue Ravignan, and shortly afterwards, in the number 12 of the rue Cotot-, where he/she survived as he/she could play humble and eventual trades little related to literary concerns. However, in 1912 he/she managed as typo corrector in a printing press, which allowed him to engage with some people in the publishing world, as well as to make himself the typesetting of his first book of poems, published in the middle of the second decade of the 20th century under the title of poems in prose (poems in prose, 1915). Already at that time, the young Pierre Reverdy had begun frequenting avant-garde circles of the city from the Seine, and established ties of friendship and esthetic complicity with the most outstanding figures of cubism, as the great Madrid painter Juan Gris (1887-1927), who gave a definitive boost to his fledgling literary career doing the illustrations accompanying the newly cited early publication of the author of Narbonne.

Visiting regular at the famous "bateau-lavoir" (site in that same street Ravignan, Montmartre, where he/she had fixed his residence), known among his select audience not only to Juan Gris, but other many artists attached to the postulated cubists, who soon shared a strong friendship, as the painters Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Georges Braque (1882-1963), Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Fernand Léger (1881-1955)the sculptors Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934) and Henri Laurens (1885-1954), and the poet Max Jacob (1876-1944). Fruitful artistic boil that was noted in that environment soon inspired Reverdy new works, as the collection of poems the Côte ovale (oval skylight, 1916), "plaquette" Quelques poèmes (some poems, 1916) and the autobiographical novel Le voleur (the thief of talent, 1917) talent, work on which began to look those features so characteristic of his styleas the breaking of a syntactic linkages - common, otherwise, almost all avant-garde writers, especially the attached to Cubism and the Dada - and daring search and groundbreaking of new levels of expression that become, as well, in the primordial aim of the text.

Excited with vigor, originality and the transgressive desire for aesthetic adventure mates, in 1917 Pierre Reverdy founded the cultural publication Nord-Sud (North-South), soon considered the magazine of the postulates of the younger generations who gave shape to the so-called avant-garde. The poet of Narbonne was also director of this publication when went out with its first issue (i.e. the day 15 of March 1817); but soon was succeeded in this role by other names such as Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) - the brilliant creator of Calligrammes -, the aforementioned Max Jacob, Tristan Tzara(1896-1963) - father of the Dada - and André Breton (1896-1966) - call to become one of the greats "popes" of the surrealism. In addition, Reverdy collaborated on another organ of diffusion of the avant-garde currents of the time, such as the magazines Sic and Littérature.

Following the publication of other works that confirmed its privileged position at the head of the young French artists of the first third of the 20th century - as the collections of poems Les ardoises du toit (1918) and Les Jockeys Camoufles (1918), the collection of tales and poems the guitar endormie (1919) and the volume of articles critical of Self défense (1919)-, Pierre Reverdy underwentat the beginning of the Decade of the 1920s, an amazing spiritual transformation, it manifests itself in his conversion to Catholicism (1921). It followed, however, by deploying intense literary activity which was reflected in new poetic collections as the titled Etoile peintes (1921) - collection of poems in prose-, Coeur de Chêne (1921), the Cravates de Chanvre (1922), Les Épaves du ciel (1924), Ecumes of the mer (1925) and large nature (1925); and in 1926, the year he/she published a popular novel entitled La peau d'Homme (the skin of the man), abandoned worldly life in Paris and withdrew to the field in the company of his wife Henriette, willing to adopt a new way of life radically different from what had led up to then, dominated the gathering, modesty, and loneliness.

Installed, then, in a miserable cottage located next to the Benedictine Abbey of that place, Solesmes Pierre Reverdy became regular visitor of the local church, which was noted by the long periods of time which was devoted to prayer. Meanwhile, he/she was still busy in creative writing and, above all, in the relentless pursuit of the thematic content and the forms of expression more adjusted to a particular concept of "pure poetry" that had been pursuing for several years as if it were also a spiritual ideal. As well, on the verses of the aforementioned collection of poems Les Épaves du ciel (the spoils of heaven, 1924), wrote a brilliant, subtle and refined annotations in prose, published under the title of Le gant de crin (horsehair, 1927 glove), became the highlight of this personal quest for a language and contents of extreme purity and sobriety.

During the rest of his life (which lasted for thirty-four years since its settlement in Solesmes), Pierre Reverdy traveled frequently to Paris, usually on the occasion of the successive appearances of his new books, that should remind the titled La Balle au Bond (1928) and Flaqués de Verre (1929) - both composed poems in prose-; the poetry book Sources du Vent (1929); the collection of tales Risques et Périls (1930); the new poems Pierres Blanches (1930), Ferrailles (1937), Plein Verre (1940), Plupart du Temps (1945) and Visages (1946); the volume of annotations Le Livre de mon Bord (1948); and, finally, other titles such as Le Chants des Morts (1948), Main d'Oeuvre (1949) - autobiographical work that condenses all the literary career that had deployed up to then-, Une Aventure Méthodique (1950), Cercle Doré (1953) - songs-book, Au Soleil du Plafond (1955), in Vrac (1956) and La Liberté des Mers (1960). The writer of Narbonne was also author of a relevant work which put showed his extraordinary knowledge of the art of his time, entitled Pablo Picasso (1924) and published in the prestigious collection 'Peintres Français Nouveaux"("French painters new").

When considered that their settlement in Solesmes was definitive, Reverdy was made to build a new House, all of stone, which spent the remainder of his days, alternated his intense dedication to the literary creation with a very particular hobby: white rabbit-breeding. During World War II, the last residence of the poet was occupied by the military, which provoked the anger of the poet and his withdrawal--along with his wife--to a small hut that existed at the bottom of your garden, where resided while there were soldiers in the noble premises of his home.