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Biographies - essays

Aragon, a French destiny

by Pierre Juquin

“The first time I saw Aragon at his place, alone, he had me in a deep armchair the color of mud from the trenches. It paced back and forth on its long spindles, watching me. He was talking, talking... Each of our interviews, for twenty years, was long and did not last, as Diderot wrote... At our last meeting, shortly before his death [...], he suddenly improvised a surreal text, one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. A perfect form sprang from his brain. Had he not been engaged in political combat, he would nonetheless be one of the greatest French writers.

The destiny and the work of the author of Aurélien and the saga of the Real World, the Peasant of Paris, Holy Week, the Unfinished Roman, the Fou d'Eisa, at the same time an important actor in the history contemporary and immense poet, along with that novelist, journalist, essayist, art critic, even historian (of the Soviet Union), are part of our common heritage. Ahead of Victor Hugo, he is the French poet most set to music, and by a large number of composers...

Pierre Juquin brought to light unpublished and untraceable objects, stripped archives and collections, collected countless testimonies, explored the documents that Aragon and Eisa Triolet - a mythical couple - bequeathed to France. He went so far as to roam the grass of the battlefields where Auxiliary Physician Aragon served in both World Wars, before becoming a leader of the National Resistance. A monumental and fascinating investigation that leaves no enigma, family, political, literary or even intimate, to deliver this sum that will be a reference, while reading like a novel: novel of an exceptional witness, novel of a century, it will surprise you until the last lines.


by Philippe Forest

Aragon has told himself a great deal, in prose and in verse; he never ceased to apply with virtuosity the principle of "true lying" to his life, already rich in so many enigmas and paradoxes: an illegitimate child from whom the secret of his origins was long hidden; decorated antimilitarist of the Great War then medalist of the Resistance; Dadaist dandy who became a disciplined militant in Stalin's and Thorez's party; surrealist poet converted to socialist realism; ladies' man - and what women! - metamorphosed into a cantor of conjugal love, before later discovering the taste for boys... All these different characters are one and the same whose literary, intellectual and political itinerary transcribes genius and chaos of the century. Philippe Forest recomposes the sumptuous novel of this long existence, with its glorious chapters and its gloomy pages. It reveals the game of mirrors through which the work and the life of a gifted writer are reflected, to whom none of the forms of literature were foreign. And if this work continues to touch us, while this life never ceases to disconcert us, it is because it possesses a youthfulness, an insolence, an energy on which time has had little effect. Aragon has been loved as much as hated, admired as much as maligned, for both good and bad reasons. In these pages, it is not a question of acquitting or condemning him, but of returning to the very mystery of the man who, it has been said, was undoubtedly "the last of the giants of our time". Novelist and essayist, Philippe Forest also contributed to the publication of the Complete Works of Aragon in the Library of the Pléiade.

Read about book's articleFrancois Eychart


by Pierre Daix

Poet, novelist, essayist, activist, Louis Aragon (1897-1982) lived at the heart of the great movements of the 20th century, the surrealist adventure, with André Breton and Philippe Soupault, the Resistance of writers, with Jean Paulhan, Elsa Triolet, Jacques Decour and Paul Eluard, the communist commitment, from the revolutionary exaltation of the first years to the heartbreak of the Prague Spring. His intimate knowledge of Aragon, his years of research and reflection have made Pierre Daix the classic biographer of the poet. The first, he revealed the drama of a childhood without a father and where the mother passed for the eldest sister, enlightened the relations of Aragon with Drieu la Rochelle, André Breton or Elsa Triolet. The discovery of unpublished texts, the opening of new archives, both French and Soviet, the proliferation of works and university conferences have, in recent years, brought much unknown information and as many modifications, sometimes revisions, to this biographical enterprise. . Freeing Aragon from hagiography as well as from simplisms and legends, the author here gives the poet his true stature: that of a classic of the 20th century, for what he bequeathed to French poetry and prose, but also for what it brings to all those who seek a destiny commensurate with their dreams.

Elsa Triolet

TheEyes and Memory

by Lilly Marcou


“The writings, remarked Elsa Triolet in “La Mise en mots”, are preceded by their own caption and the author's caption. I have eyes that are Elsa's. I have a husband who is a communist. Communist by “my fault”. I am a tool of the Soviets. I am a jewelry woman. I am a great lady and a slut. I am a moralist and a frivolous being who knits, who embroiders stories. I am Scheherazade, the great novelist. I am the poet's muse and curse. I am beautiful and repulsive. I am stuffed with thoughts and feelings like a sound doll, without my having anything to do with it.

The lucidity of the novelist, underlined by Lilly Marcou in her biography, will not have been denied post mortem by publications of recent years, even of the last days in the press. “Elsa Triolet. The Eyes and Memory” happily contrasts with this literature. The author has freed herself from clichés to delve into the sources, whether CNRS research or testimonies from actors of the time, and presents the fabulous career in the century which was that of Ella Iourevna Kagan, a journey that meets the greatest intellectual figures, an adventure in the heart of the dramas of that time. If Lilly Marcou is more attached to the figure of Elsa Triolet, to her personal destiny, than to the reading of the work - which tomorrow will remain -, she shows an endearing woman, alone, yet surrounded by friendships. scintillating (Maïakovski, Jacobson, Chlovski, Ehrenburg...), reserved with regard to political passions and yet capable of the most courageous commitments, in the Resistance or for peace, intransigent, restless, passionately French - to the point of abandoning Russian as a language of writing - and always "foreign" in the eyes of others.

Precise, attentive to words as well as actions, this work goes beyond the legend of the mythical couple, to focus on the pas de deux of the great creators of this time, whose books intersected. We are very far from the "false image of a diabolical Elsa who would have possessed the poet, forged from scratch by various kinds of forgers", according to the word of Lilly Marcou.

At the same time rigorous and loving, this biography which sums up what we know today about the novelist - winner of the Goncourt prize immediately after the war - arouses a tremendous appetite to go and see it more closely, among the twenty-seven books published by Elsa Triolet.


Aragon, memory and excess

Olivier Barbarant

Concerning Aragon, the man and his ambiguities eclipse the work and its successes. His poetry particularly suffers from such a state of affairs: too well known, and therefore misunderstood, it is reduced to a few famous verses, a few circumscribed dates, a few legends (Elsa, the resistance, History...) never really read. .
For the first time since the death of the author, this book therefore aims to reread the totality of a poetic trajectory which is not reduced to the use of verse, nor to imitation, nor to the exploitation of a few great themes. From 1919 to 1982, Aragon rather debates with poetic procedures, with the memory of a genre, with his own, trying with each book to move and reinvent a new lyricism. Collage, editing, intertextuality, disruption of syntax, reinvention of forms, memory provides material that a systematic and disturbing practice of excess tries each time to overflow. Freed from false knowledge, the work then regains coherence: it is the incessant search for a placement of the voice which has not finished dazzling, nor giving a few lessons to modernity.

Aragon the unclassifiable

by Valere Staraselski

Of Louis Aragon, the academician Jean d'Ormesson assured that he was "the greatest French poet... a novelist of genius. And a critic, an essayist, an outstanding polemicist. A universal writer for whom everything was possible and who stopped at nothing... The one who, through time and space, covered the most ground. For more than half a century, he occupied the stage and dominated the situation". Unquestionably, from the surrealism he founded with André Breton and Philippe Soupault, to the dazzling, almost magical novels of the end, passing through the cycle of the Real World, Aragon's writings constitute one of the surest introductions to the knowledge and intelligibility of the twentieth century. From La Mise à mort published in 1965 and Théâtre/Roman published in 1974, the author offers a reading of the work as a whole. The writer's relationship with criticism, the place and role of the imaginary, the conception of the novel, of lying-true, realism are considered here in relation in particular to the works of Lacan, Althusser, Blanchot, Derrida, Heidegger and the work of Lautréamont. For Aragon, whether it is poetry, novel, theatre, song, painting, creation "is the being which involves knowledge beyond having it", in other words what persists in designating the unclassifiable, to bring it back to the overly satisfied eyes of the reader. We discover, over the course of these pages, a work of great constructive capacity, of a high scope which, with regard to representation and its implications, occupies one of the most fundamental positions.

Aragon, the deliberate liaison

by Valere Staraselski

Louis Aragon is one of the greatest French writers of the 20th century. One of the least known too. An author that many critics admit not to understand. It is true that his itinerary, made up of a framework where the creator and the politician intersect, is exceptional. The intersection between creation and politics is so constant with him that there is a real risk of deciding to retain only one aspect.
This is why the writer and the politician are considered here in their deliberate connection.
“This “deliberate liaison” which plays the title role here is revealed in the homage of the Communist Party published the day after the death of the poet: “Many writers have been able to play a role in our history. But rare are those who have taken the deliberate link between writing and the political act so far". Jean d'Ormesson had shared this way of seeing things which declared: "the poet is dead... Let him or not, he now undoubtedly belongs to the Communist Party. But with its shadows and its lights, Aragon also and above all belongs to French literature".
The first, Staraselski, having put his foot in the way of the door, blocks the practices of the literary police (inherited from the worst Stalinism), the manic-decryption which underlies the fashionable pseudo biographies and which, hopefully, opens the way to disqualification. High mountain guide, Staraselski accompanies us in a long race through the Aragonese Alps and all the fault lines of History. Far from the beaten track, Staraselski searches in his own way: by accumulating facts and texts. And he finds. It was time ". Francis Crémieux


Suzanne Ravis-Francon,

from Aragon's biography

by Pierre Juquin

(La Pensée, January-March 2014)


Suzanne Ravis-Françon has just published a long book review, entitled " A biography of Aragon by Pierre Juquin ", in La Pensée n°_cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_377, p. 129-140, (January-February-March 2014).
She immediately announces the fact that the two volumes Aragon, a French destiny are " now unavoidable ", and argues the very great value of this biography according to various axes largely developed and supported. While regretting the absence of an index and certain references, and sometimes inaccurate quotations, she insists on the complicity that the biographer builds with the reader, thanks to various enunciative and narrative choices and to the multiplicity of anecdotes.

The writer and the book

or the continuation in the ideas

Preface by Marie-Thérèse Eychart

The Writer and the Book is a remarkable synthesis of the aesthetic, social, political and ideological problems that confronted leftist and particularly communist intellectuals in the post-war years. Elsa Triolet leads a conversation charged with passion, emotion and reason in her own way, without ever sparing her people. We are in the heart of what is being built, in the heart of History which, as she wrote elsewhere, will "continue its song" whose successes and failures we, readers of today, know .

"Aragon theoretician/practitioner

of the novel"

Literary Studies Review

Flight. 45.1 – winter 2014


Under the direction of Katerine Gosselin (University of Quebec at Rimouski) and Olivier Parenteau

Department of Literature, Laval University, 2014.


   _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d novel carried out by Aragon throughout his life, approaching it fundamentally as that of a theoretician / practitioner. Just as he has always been reluctant to separate genres, Aragon has always refused to consider the novel and the reflection on its practice as two independent types of writing.
  Aragon's writings on the novel take various forms (essays, prefaces, interviews, correspondence, articles, conferences) and are devoted both to the novels of others and to his own. Over the course of these writings, Aragon pursues in a more and more sustained manner a reflection on the particularities and possibilities of the novel. The analysis of these texts makes it possible to appreciate the constants and the invariants of the " pensée romanesque " of Aragon, to identify certain lines of force of its reflection. This is indeed the objective of this dossier : to facilitate circulation in the vast body of texts in which the Aragonian conception of the novel develops.

Aragon, content and form

Lucien Wasselin

Finding, in the poetic work of form, the coherence and logic of a work, that is the goal set by Lucien Wasselin in this essay. It is successful, because by summoning existing studies (Barbarant, Marie-Thérèse Eychart) to develop his own approach, he offers a clear vision by making the entire poetic journey of Aragon accessible. A bit like this sentence : «  Faced with the failures of his profession, this profession which served him since Dada until his most recent poems », Valère Staraselski, in La Faute à Diderot.

"Lucien Wasselin is one of the best connoisseurs of the work of Aragon and as such he has just published a short essay on the man who was a national poet  (…) For Lucien Wasselin, l he study of form in Aragon is essential in order to understand his writings. We know that for the poet form was a constant quest and that he made verse one of his major researches (…) With this essay, Lucien Wasselin exposes the characteristics of Aragon's poetry and writing, his virtuosity, his intentions, all these factors which make him a writer whose importance no longer needs to be demonstrated." 
Max Alhau, in Texture

Everything shows the virtuosity of Aragon who thus proves his total freedom and his taste for the great form that he masters with this poem and who will never abandon it.




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