Louis Aragon  

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"Western world, you are condemned to death"

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Louis Aragon (October 3, 1897December 24, 1982), French poet and novelist, a long-time political supporter of the communist party and prominent member of the Surrealists.



Aragon was born and died in Paris.

Having been involved in Dada from 1919 to 1924, he became a founding member of Surrealism in 1924 with André Breton and Philippe Soupault. Aragon joined the French Communist Party with several other surrealists. He would remain a member for the rest of his life, writing several political poems including one to Maurice Thorez, however he was also critical of the USSR, particularly during the 1950s.

In 1939 he married Russian-born author Elsa Triolet (born 1896), the sister of Lilya Brik, a mistress and common-law wife of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Aragon and Triolet collaborated in the left-wing French media before and during World War II, going underground for most of the Nazi occupation.

During the World War II German occupation of France he wrote for the underground press Les Éditions de Minuit.

From Snarxism to Marxism

The French surrealists had long claimed Lewis Carroll as one of their own, so it came as no surprise when Aragon tackled The Hunting of the Snark in 1929, shortly before he completed his transition from Snarxism to Marxism, as Martin Gardner puts it. Witness the key stanza of the poem in Aragon's translation:

Ils le traquèrent avec des gobelets ils le traquèrent avec soin
Ils le poursuivirent avec des fourches et de l'espoir
Ils menacèrent sa vie avec une action de chemin de fer
Ils le charmèrent avec des sourires et du savon

Gardner calls the translation "pedestrian", and reminds the reader of Carroll's Rhyme? And Reason? (also published as Phantasmagoria). Gardner finds also the rest of Aragon's writings on Carroll's nonsense poetry full of factual errors, and cautions the reader that there is no evidence that Aragon intended any of it as a joke.

Back to Surrealism

After the death of his wife on June 16, 1970, Aragon came out as bisexual, appearing at gay pride parades in a pink convertible (Ivry 1996, p.134).


Novels and Short Stories



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