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Frénaud, André 1907–1993

Frénaud, André 1907–1993

PERSONAL: Born July 26, 1907, in Montceau-les-Mines, Saô-et-Loire, France; died, 1993; married second wife, Monique Mathieu, 1971. Education: Attended University of Dijon; Sorbonne, received law degree.

CAREER: University of Lvov, lecturer, 1930; Ministry of Public Works, Paris, France, civil administrator, 1937–40, 1945–63; Communauté Européenne des Écrivains, member of executive committee, 1963–68. Military service: French Army; served during World War II; prisoner of war, 1940–42; served in French Resistance movement.

AWARDS, HONORS: Etna-Taormina Prize, 1973; grand prize for poetry, Académie Française, 1973; poetry prize, Ministry of Culture and Communication, 1988; grand prize, Société des Gens de Lettres, 1989.

WRITINGS:

POETRY

Les rois mages, Seghers (Paris, France), 1943, revised edition, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1977.

Les mystères de Paris, Seuil (Paris, France), 1943.

La noce noire (also see below), Seghers (Paris, France), 1946.

Soleil irréductible, Ides et Calendes (Paris and Neu-châtel, France), 1946.

La femme de ma vie, Blaizot, 1947.

Poèmes de Brandebourg, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1947.

Poèmes de dessous le plancher; La noce noire, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1949.

L'EÉnorme figure de la Déesse Raison, illustrated by Raoul Ubac, privately printed, 1950.

Les Paysans, Jean Aubier, [Paris, France], 1951.

Source entière, Seghers (Paris, France), 1953.

André Frénaud, edited by G.E. Clancier, Seghers (Paris, France), 1953.

Dans l'arbre ténébreux, Benoit (Alès, France), 1956.

La nuit des prestiges, Benoit (Alès, France), 1956.

Chemins du vain espoir, De Romilly, 1956.

Passage de la visitation, GLM (Paris, France), 1956.

Coeur mal fléché, Benoit (Alès, France), 1957.

Pays retrouvé, Benoit (Alès, France), 1957.

Excrétion, misère et facéties, Sciascia (Rome and Caltanissetta, Italy), 1958.

Noël au chemin de fer, Benoit (Alès, France), 1959.

L'Agonie du Général Krivitski, illustrated by André Masson, Oswald (Paris, France), 1960.

L'Amitié d'Italie, Strenna per Gli Amici (Milan, Italy), 1961.

Pour l'office des morts, Benoit (Alès, France), 1961.

Il n'y a pas de paradis, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1962.

L'Étape dans la clairièrer; Pour une plus haute flamme par le défi, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1966.

Vieux pays; Campagne, Maeght (Paris, France), 1967.

La Sainte Face, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1968, revised edition, 1985.

Depuis toufours déjà: poèmes, 1953–1968, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1970.

Le miroir de l'homme par les bêtes, Maeght (Paris, France), 1972.

Qui possède quoi? (in French and English), translations by Serge Gavronsky, Greenwood Press (San Francisco, CA), 1972.

La sorcière de Rome, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1973, translated by Keith Bosley as Rome, the Sorceress, Bloodaxe (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England), 1996.

Mines de rien, petits délires, Puel (Veilhes, France), 1974.

A Round O, translation by Keith Bosley, Interim Press (Egham, Surrey, England), 1977.

November, translation by John Montague and Evelyn Robson, Golden Stone Press (Cork, Ireland), 1977.

La vie comme elle tourne et par exemple, Maeght (Paris, France), 1979.

Alentour de la montagne, Galanis (Paris, France), 1980.

Haeres: poèmes, 1968–1981, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1982.

Nul ne s'égare; La vie comme elle tourne et par ex-emple; Comme un serpent remonte les rivières (omnibus), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1986.

André Frénaud ontologique: 11 poèmes, Bedou (Gour-don, France), 1986.

Also author of poetry collection Le tombeau de mon père, Galanis (Paris, France).

OTHER

(With Jean Lescure and Jean Tardieu) Bazaine, Estè, Lapicque, Carré (Paris, France), 1945.

(With Maurice Estève) C'est à valoir, Benoit (Alès, France), 1955.

A. Beaudin, peinture, 1927–1957 (exhibition catalog), Galerie Leiris (Paris, France), 1957.

Le château et la quête du poète, Benoit (Alès, France), 1957.

Chant de Marc Chagall, Maeght (Paris, France), 1969.

(With Bernard Pingaud) Notre inhabileté fatale (interview), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1979.

Miró, comme un enchanteur, Maeght (Paris, France), 1983.

Ubac et les fondements de son art, Maeght (Paris, France), 1985.

A collection of Frénaud's manuscripts is maintained at Harvard University.

SIDELIGHTS: Originally content in his work as a civil servant in France, it was his bleak experiences during World War II, including two years as a prisoner of war, that inspired André Frénaud to turn to writing poetry. His verses are characterized by their sense of futility, pessimism, and stoicism. While Peter Broome pointed out in his Contemporary World Writers essay that titles such as Les rois mages ("The Magi") and Il n'y a pas de paradis ("There Is No Paradise") "suggest a religious preoccupation … [there is actually] an impetus which negates itself, sees no afterlife, end, or redemption." Frénaud also often wrote about war, such as World War II in Poèmes de Brandebourg and the Spanish Civil War in La Sainte Face, while his love poems "rarely … transcend solitude or exorcize the haunting and tormented images of a restless subconscious."

Among Frénaud's most often praised collections is La sorcière de Rome, which was translated and published as Rome, the Sorceress. In this complex work, the poet offers an extended contemplation of the title city, ruminating on its pagan past and religious-center present alike, "often in relation to religious and mythological themes," according to Gary Cookson in the Modern Language Review. Divided into fifteen movements, the verses "explore in a sort of pulsating rhythm the human search for response from a supporting, expansive divinity," explained Elizabeth R. Jackson in the French Review. However, the poet concludes that those who promise help and salvation through God are "cheats" whose "promises make way for cold reality," according to a Times Literary Supplement reviewer, who concluded that La sorcière de Rome is Frénaud's "finest creation in this genre."

Frénaud received the same kind of praise nearly ten years later for his Haeres: poèmes, 1968–1981, which critics felt bore further evidence that the poet was still going strong four decades after his early work earned him acclaim. The writer's thematic concerns and position remain remarkably consistent, while his willingness to experiment with style and content also continues here. "Haeres," reported Moira McCluney in the French Review, "is the poet's questioning dialogue with himself, written in sober, meditative, 'versets,' followed by elaborations approaching the explanatory essay form." Michael Bishop, writing in World Literature Today, described Haeres as a "lucidly benign mediation of the light and darkness traversed, briefly, by a great poet."

Reviewers of one of Frénaud's last verse collections, Nul ne s'égare; La vie comme elle tourne et par exemple; Comme un serpent remonte les rivières, took the opportunity to assert their high opinion of the poet. Here, the poems still convey a perturbed sense of fate and disintegration, while the author maintains a sense of "something quite 'imperceptible' occurring, displaying itself parabolically, in symbols no doubt only decipherable by the heart and the soul," according to Bishop in another World Literature Today review. Bishop concluded that Nul ne s'égare offers more evidence that Frénaud "is one of France's greatest … poets."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary World Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1993.

PERIODICALS

French Review, May, 1975, Elizabeth R. Jackson, review of La sorcière de Rome, pp. 1063-1064; December, 1984, Moira McCluney, review of Haeres: poèmes, 1968–1981, pp. 313-314.

Modern Language Review, April, 1985, Gary Cookson, review of La sorcière de Rome, pp. 477-478; January, 1998, Andrew Rothwell, review of Rome, the Sorceress, pp. 232-233.

Times Literary Supplement, October 12, 1973, "Subterranean Truths," review of La sorcière de Rome, p. 1244; April 22, 1988, Mark Hutchinson, "A Basis for Beneficence," review of André Frénaud, p. 456.

World Literature Today, spring, 1980, Michael Bishop, "Interviews," review of Notre inhabileté fatale, p. 253; summer, 1983, Michael Bishop, review of Haeres, pp. 423-424; winter, 1988, Michael Bishop, review of Nul ne s'égare; La vie comme elle tourne et par exemple; Comme un serpent remonte les rivières, p. 89.

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