Rene Char

Rene Char (1907–1988) was born in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France. During
his brief participation in the surrealist movement, he published with Breton
and Eluard the collective work, Ralentir Travaux. He preserved the technique
of automatic writing, but only to move beyond it. In 1934, he gathered
all the surrealist poetry of the time under the title “Le Marteau Sans
Maître”, and then quietly broke his ties with the group. He explained his
rupture with the group in a letter to Benjamin Péret in 1935: “Surrealism
needed to be dissolved gracefully in order to protect it from the humiliation
of becoming centenarian. But aren’t you fatalistic? Was the descent of
Sade, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont entirely intellectual? Seeing this pathetic
compromise coming, I refused to sanction it. I am leaving this circus.” The
war in Spain incited him to participate (Placart pour le Chemin des
Ecoliers, 1937). After 1940, Char joined the French Resistance in World
War II, where he became renowned. His poetry, written in an urgent tone,
became a celebration of the movement (Fureur et Mystère, 1948). After the
Second World War, he pursued his personal goal of reaching a high degree
of poetic formalism and strict metrical structures (La Parole en Archipel,
1962). At the end of his life, concerned about the environment, he became
one of the French nuclear energy project’s strongest critics. He died in Paris
in 1988.
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