Paul Claudel – Biography of Paul Claudel

Paul Louis Charles Marie Claudel He was born on August 6, 1868 in Villeneuve-sur-Fère; brother of the sculptor Camille Claudel, he belonged to a family of farmers and the rural aristocracy, an unfavorable antecedent for his later diplomatic career.

In 1890 he embarked on a long and brilliant career in foreign service that took him from New York to China (for 14 years), back to Europe, and then to South America. Following his literary career, he was the French ambassador to Tokyo (1921), Washington (1927) and Brussels (1933).

While traveling the world, away from the literary circles of Paris, he slowly elaborated his theocentric conception of the universe and conceived his vocation: the revelation through poetry, both lyrical and dramatic, of the great design of creation. This enthusiastic and relentless decipherment of the cosmos was inspired at 18 by a double revelation: Arthur Rimbaud’s discovery of the Illuminations and his sudden conversion to Roman Catholicism.

Claudel He reached his largest audience through his symbolic works that powerfully synthesized all theatrical elements, to evoke them in a single mood, atmosphere and common thread. His heroes were men of action: generals, conquerors, landowners. La Ville (published in 1890), L’Echange (written in 1893) and Le Repos du septième jour (written in 1896), they all portray heroes burning with the lusts of the flesh: pride, greed, ambition, violence, and passion. But Claudel it moved beyond the appetites of man along a steady path to redemption.

In 1900 he suffered a religious crisis and decided to abandon his artistic and diplomatic career and enter a Benedictine monastery. Discouraged by the Order and deeply disappointed, he left France for a consular post in China. On board the ship he met a married Polish woman with whom he shared an adulterous love for the next four years, after which they left each other.

Even if Claudel married a French woman in 1906, this episode of forbidden love became an important myth in his later works, beginning with Midi partage (published 1906). In this autobiographical work, Claudel appears torn between human and divine love. The conflict is resolved in L’Annonce faite à Marie (1912), a medieval mystery in its tone, in which Claudel it exposed the place of women in God’s scheme. Woman, daughter of Eve, temptress and source of evil, is also the daughter of Mary, initiator of man’s search for salvation: such is the Doña Prouhèze from Le Soulier de satin (written in 1924), his masterpiece. The setting is the Spanish Catholic world of the Renaissance; that reaches, through Columbus, the Jesuits and the conquerors, to the ends of the earth. This huge tapestry is the story of the search for the inaccessible Mrs. Prouhèze (for being married) by the adventurer Rodrigue, who is the characteristic worldly claudélico hero, passionate and predatory. The couple rejects sexual fulfillment and accepts the ultimate sacrifice: death for Prouhèze, slavery for Rodrigue; thus, they reach the spiritual consummation of their union.

Other dramatic works by Claudel include the historical trilogy L’Otage (published in 1911), Le pain dur (1918) and Le Père humilié (written in 1916). Set at the time of the French Revolution, it portrays the humiliated faith in the person of the Pope. He also wrote Le Livre by Christophe Colomb (published 1933), with music by Darius Milhaud and the oratorio Jeanne d’Arc (made in 1938), with music by Arthur Honegger.

His best known and most impressive lyrical works are the ambitious and confessional Cinq great odes (1910). Later volumes, consisting of poems written at various times, lack the symbolic unity that holds the odes together. He adopted very early a long line, usually without rhyme, which came to be known as the verset claudélien, which was his special contribution to French prosody.

Paul claudel He died on February 23, 1955 in Paris, France.