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Cayrol, Jean 1911-2005

Cayrol, Jean 1911-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born June 6, 1911, in Bordeaux, France; died February 9 (one source says February 10), 2005, in Bordeaux, France. Writer. Cayrol was a prolific poet and novelist well known for his poetry collection Poèmes de la nuit et du brouillard, which he later adapted as a controversial screenplay. Before World War II, Cayrol studied law and literature at the University of Bordeaux, was briefly a practicing attorney, and began a career as a librarian for the chamber of commerce in Bordeaux. But when France fell to the Nazis, Cayrol and his brother became part of the Resistance. They were arrested for their activities and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where Cayrol's brother died. Haunted thereafter by the question of why he had survived and his brother had not, Cayrol addressed the problem of fate on a recurring basis in his postwar poems and novels. Hired in 1946 by the Paris publishing house Editions du Seuil as a chief literary consultant, Cayrol began a productive life of writing. His first fictional work was the trilogy Je vivrai l'amour des autres (1946-47), for which he won the Prix Renaudot; his 1946 poetry collection, Poèmes de la nuit et du brouillard, also received critical acclaim. In these and other works Cayrol explores the horrors of the Nazi regime, as well as drawing the actions of their French collaborators with a detailed and objective eye that makes the experiences he describes all the more terrible. When he adapted his verses into the controversial movie Nuit et brouillard (1956), it was censored not only by the German government, but also by the French and the Swiss. However, the movie was screened at the Cannes film festival, where it won the Jean Vigo Prize. Much later, in 1997, the screenplay was printed, along with an essay by Cayrol, as Nuit et brouillard: suivi de, De la mort a la vie. The same year his film was released, Cayrol was made director of Edition du Seuil's Ecrire, and he remained in that position until he retired in 1977. He continued to write for another two decades, though most of his work remains untranslated, and he is thus best known in his native France. Cayrol's only novels to be translated into English are All in a Night, a 1957 translation of L'espace d'une nuit, and Foreign Bodies, the 1960 translation of Les corps etrangers. In addition to his fiction and poetry, he also published nonfiction, including essay collections, and directed the 1965 film Le coup de grace.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Independent (London, England), April 13, 2005, p. 43.

Times (London, England), February 28, 2005, p. 49.

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