Julien Gracq  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Julien Gracq (July 27, 1910December 22, 2007) is the pen name of Louis Poirier, a French writer. He wrote novels, critiques, a play and poetry. His work, influenced by Surrealism and German Romanticism, but profoundly original, is hard to classify.

Julien Gracq was born at Saint-Florent-le-Vieil in Maine-et-Loire. He first studied in Paris at Lycée Henri IV where he earned his baccalauréat. He then entered the École Normale Supérieure in 1930 and the École libre des sciences politiques.

During World War II he was a prisoner of war in Silesia with other officers of the French Army. One of the friendships he formed there was with author and literary critic Armand Hoog.

In 1950 he published in the Empédocle review a fierce attack on contemporary literary culture and literary prizes. When he won the Prix Goncourt for The Opposite Shore (Le Rivage des Syrtes) in the following year, he remained consistent with his criticism and refused the prize.

In 1989, Gracq's work was published by the very prestigious Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. He remains distant from major literary events and remained faithful to his first editor José Corti. He taught history and geography in highschool until he retired in 1970.

In 1932, he read André Breton's Nadja which deeply influenced him. His first novel, The Castle of Argol is dedicated to that surrealist writer to whom he devoted a whole book in 1948.

He wrote the foreword of the 1979 reedition of the Journal de l'analogiste (1954) by Suzanne Lilar which he viewed as "Une initiation somptueuse à la poésie".


  • Au château d’Argol, 1938 (novel) (English translation : The Castle of Argol or château d'Argol)
  • Un beau ténébreux, 1945 (novel)
  • Liberté grande, 1947 (poetry)
  • Le Roi pêcheur, 1948 (play)
  • André Breton, quelques aspects de l’écrivain, 1948 (critique)
  • Le Rivage des Syrtes, 1951 (novel) (English translation : the Opposite shore)
  • Prose pour l’Etrangère, 1952
  • Penthésilée, 1954
  • Un balcon en forêt, 1958 (novel) (English translation : a balcony in the forest)
  • Préférences, 1961
  • Lettrines, 1967
  • La Presqu’île, 1970
  • Le Roi Cophetua, 1970 (novel) (English Translation: King Cophetua); it inspired the film Rendez-vous a Bray, directed by Andre Delvaux
  • Lettrines II, 1974
  • Les Eaux Etroites, 1976
  • En lisant en écrivant, 1980
  • La Forme d’une ville, 1985
  • Autour des sept collines, 1988
  • Carnets du grand chemin, 1992
  • Entretiens, 2002

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