Jouve, Pierre Jean 1887-1976

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Jouve, Pierre Jean 1887-1976


Born October 11, 1887, in Arras, France; died January 8, 1976, in Paris, France; married second wife, Blanche Reverchon (a psychiatrist), 1925.


Poet, essayist, novelist.


Les Muses Romaines et Florentines, A. Messein (Paris, France), 1910.

Les Aéroplanes [Paris, France], 1911.

La Rencontre dans le Carrefour, E. Figuière (Paris, France), 1911.

Présences, Georges Crès (Paris, France), 1912.

Les Deux Forces, Éditions de l'effort Libre (Paris, France), 1913.

Parler, Georges Crès (Paris, France), 1913.

Vous Êtes des Hommes, 1915, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française (Paris, France), 1915, translation by R.F. published as Men of Europe, 1915, Omega Workshops (London, England), 1915.

Poème Contre le Grand Crime 1916, Demain (Geneva, Switzerland), 1916.

Danse des Morts, Édition d'Action Sociale (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), 1917.

Le Défaitisme contre l'Homme Libre, Édition d'Action Sociale (La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland), 1918.

Hôtel-Dieu: Récits d'Hôpital en 1915, Edité par les auteurs (Geneva, Switzerland), 1918.

Heures: Livre de la Nuit, Éditions du Sablier (Geneva, Switzerland), 1919.

Romain Rolland Vivant: 1914-1919, P. Ollendorf (Paris, France), 1920.

Heures: Livre de la Grace, A. Kundig (Geneva, Switzerland), 1920.

Tragiques: Suivis du Voyage Sentimentale, Stock (Paris, France), 1922.

Prière, Stock (Paris, France), 1924.

Les Mystérieuses Noces, Librairie Stock (Paris, France), 1925.

Nouvelle Noces, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française (Paris, France), 1926.

Beau Regard, Au Sans Pareil (Paris, France), 1927.

Noces, Au Sans Pareil (Paris, France), 1928.

Le Paradis Perdu, B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1929.

Poèmes de la Folie de Hölderlin, J.O. Fourcade (Paris, France), 1929.

La Symphonie à Dieu, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1930.

Histoire Sanglantes, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1932.

Sueur de Sang, Cahiers Libres (Paris, France), 1933, foreword translated by David Gascoyne and published as The Unconscious Spirituality Catastrophe, Words Press (Child Okeford, England), 1988.

Les Cenci d'Antonin Artaud, NRF (Paris, France), 1935.

Urne, Editions G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1936.

Matière Céleste: Oeuvres Poétiques, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1937.

Kyrie, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1938.

Résurrection des Morts, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1939.

Ode au Peuple, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1939.

Porche à la Nuit des Saints, Ides et Calendres (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), 1941.

"Le Don Juan" de Mozart, Egloff (Paris, France), 1942, translation by Eric Earnshaw Smith published as Mozart's "Don Juan," V. Stuart (London, England), 1957.

Tombeau de Baudelaire, La Baconnière (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), 1942.

Gloire, Edmond Charlot (Alger, France), 1942.

Défense et Illustration, Ides et Calendres (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), 1943.

Le Bois des Pauvres, Librairie de l'Université (Fribourg, Switzerland), 1943.

(Editor) Baudelaire, Volume 1, Poesie, Volume 2, Critique, Egloff (Fribourg, Switzerland), 1943- 1944.

Gloire 1940, Egloff (Fribourg, Switzerland), 1944.

La Vierge de Paris, Egloff (Paris, France), 1944.

Processional de la Force Anglaise, Egloff (Fribourg, Switzerland), 1944.

À Une Soie: Prose et Vers, Egloff (Paris, France), 1945.

La Louange, Egloff (Paris, France), 1945.

L'homme du 18 Juin, Egloff (Paris, France), 1945.

A la France, [Amsterdam, Netherlands], 1946.

Hymne, Egloff (Paris, France), 1946.

Apologie du Poète, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1947.

Génie, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1948.

Diadème, Éditions de Minuit (Paris, France), 1949.

Ode, Éditions de Minuit (Paris, France), 1950.

Commentaires, La Baconnière (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), 1950.

(With Michel Fano) Wozzeck; ou, Le Nouvel Opéra, Plon (Paris, France), 1953.

En Miroir: Journal sans Date, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1954.

Langue: Poème, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1954.

Lyrique, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1956.

Décor de Don Juan: Essai, R. Kister (Geneva, Switzerland), 1957.

Mélodrame, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1957.

Proses, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1960.

Ténèbre, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1965.

Revue de la Reine Rouge, Parisod (Lausanne, Switzerland), 1967.

An Idiom of Night (poems selected and translated by Keith Bosley), Swallow Press (Chicago, IL), 1968.

Lulu de Frank Wedekind, L'Age d'Homme (Paris, France), 1969.

De la Révolution comme Sacrifice, L'Herne (Paris, France), 1971.

Oevres, two volumes, edited by Yves Bonnefoy, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1987.


Paulina, 1880, Nouvelle Revue Française (Paris, France), 1925, translation by Rosette Letellier and Robert Bullen published as Paulina, 1880, Marlboro Press (Evanston, IL), 1995.

Le Monde Désert, Librairie Gallimard (Paris, France), 1927, translation by Lydia Davis published as The Desert World, Marlboro Press (Evanston, IL), 1966.

Hécate, Nouvelle Revue Française (Paris, France), 1928, republished as Aventure de Catherine Crachat, Volume 1, Egloff (Paris, France), 1947, translation by Lydia Davis published as Hecate: The Adventure of Catherine Crachat: I, Marlboro Press (Evanston, IL), 1997.

Vagadu, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1931, republished as Aventure de Catherine Crachat, Volume 2, Egloff (Paris, France), 1947, translation by Lydia Davis published as Vagadu: The Adventure of Catherine Crachat: II, Marlboro Press (Evanston, IL), 1997.

La Scène Capitale, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1935.

Hélène, Dans Les Annees Profondes, G.L.M. (Paris, France), 1936, translation by Lydia Davis published as Hélène, Marlboro Press (Evanston, IL), 1995.


One of France's premier poetic voices, Pierre Jean Jouve enjoyed a long career that spanned decades, with one significant break. In the early twentieth century, he was affiliated with a number of poetic movements, including the neo-Symbolists, humanitarian pacifists, and the Unamistes, who believed poetry could help tie individuals to organic communities that could actually share a single consciousness. In 1925, he undertook a profound re-examination of his life and his work. In outer life, he remarried, to psychiatrist Blanche Reverchon. Internally, he underwent a spiritual conversion, to a Catholicism heavily influenced by visionary mystics, such as St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and by Freudian ideas. In the preface to Les Noces, published in 1928, Jouve officially renounced all his early works, dating his true writing career from 1925.

In 1925, he also published his first novel, Paulina, 1880, the tale of a wealthy young lady who falls desperately in love with an older, married count and is so driven by guilt that she joins a convent, and when that fails to curb her passions, she ends up murdering him and trying to kill herself. "The love of God and unabashed carnal passion blend in an atmosphere of radiant but grief-bound sensuality," according to American Book Review contributor Sabine Raffy. This mixture of religion and sexuality thereafter abounds in Jouve's work. In the words of Times Literary Supplement reviewer Robin Buss, "The description of Paulina's feelings of physical desire and the self-flagellation, as she tries to compensate for it in the convent, tend towards a kind of mystical eroticism."

Jouve's next novel, Le Monde Désert, published in English as The Desert World, adds a third element to the erotic mix. The tale of a tormented ménage a trois, which includes a young homosexual, a poet who considers himself "entirely indifferent to sexual practices," and a woman in love with both of them. "A contemporary writer would psychologize this story to death," observed New York Times reviewer David Guy, "but Jouve leaves it mysterious, yielding a haunting story from a time when love affairs could still be tragic."

Jouve followed with a pair of books focusing on one character. In Hecate and Vagadu, reprinted as Aventure de Catherine Crachat, I and II, he tells the story of a beautiful silent-film star who falls in love with a younger man named Pierre, loses him, and finds him years later in thrall to the sophisticated, corrupt Baroness Fanny Hohenstein, who tries to draw Catherine into a threesome with her and Pierre. These events all take place in Hecate, "an overheated but compelling novel," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted, "The relationship between Catherine and Fanny is brilliantly drawn and reaches a powerful climax—all the more powerful in comparison to Jouve's tame, rather sappy meditations on (heterosexual) love." In Vagadu, a middle-aged Catharine Crachat undertakes psychoanalysis in an attempt to make sense of her tempestuous past and her current depression. "The two novels provide a fascinating picture of a woman's struggle against the forces of darkness," wrote Susan Ireland in the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

In 1935, Jouve published his last novel, Hélène, Dans Les Annees Profondes. This time it is a young man, Leonide, who falls hopelessly in love with an older, married woman, a contessa. Again, love is strongly mixed with guilt and regret, as Leonide is repulsed by his own adulterous longings but helpless to overcome them. The culmination of their love "via the most delicate nuances of timidity, desire, fear, hope, and trembling expectation—is one of the greatest moments of our erotic literature," concluded Sabine Raffy in her article for the American Book Review. For Tribune Books reviewer Ross Feld, "Jouve was a writer who thought with his senses, who believed with the tools of his skepticism and whose work always lives best through the webs of shadow thrown by death. Hélène does a good first job of returning him to us, complex and apart and incomparable as he was."

The remainder of Jouve's career was devoted to poetry, often exploring these same conflicts of physical and spiritual longing and the search for the true, inner self. Since his death, Mercure de France has come out with Oeuvres, a two-volume set of his complete works, one devoted to poetry, the other to prose. "Its most distinguishing feature … is that it unites for the first time … the works rejected by their author in the mid-1920s and those issued between 1925 and the end of his life," according to Times Literary Supplement reviewer David Gascoyne. Similarly World LiteratureToday contributor Mortimer Guiney commended the editors for including these works expressly rejected by Jouve, "for to understand him fully one needs to have read the works from the formative years." Guiney added, "We are most grateful for the Mercure de France edition, which gives a solid basis for establishing Jouve's reputation into posterity."



American Book Review, August, 1996, Sabine Raffy, review of Hélène and Paulina, 1880, p. 13.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1997, review of Hecate: The Adventure of Catherine Crachat: I, p. 1555.

New York Times Book Review, January 12, 1997, David Guy, review of The Desert World, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, September 15, 1997, review of Hecate, p. 53.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 1998, Susan Ireland, review of Hecate and Vagadu, p. 249.

Times Literary Supplement, April 25, 1997, Robin Buss, review of Paulina, 1880, p. 23; May 6, 1998, David Gascoyne, review of Oeuvres, p. 505.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), January 28, 1996, Ross Feld, "Pierre Jean Jouve: The Price of Sensual Obsession," pp. 5, 11.

World Literature Today, winter, 1989, Mortimer Guiney, review of Oeuvres, p. 69.