Paul Eluard Biography | Poet
Paul Éluard was the pen name of Eugène Grindel (December 14, 1895 – November 18, 1952), a French poet born in Saint-Denis, just outside of Paris, who was active in the surrealist movement. He later joined French Communist Party, which lead to his break from the Surrealists, and eulogised Stalin in his political writings.
At age 16, after a happy childhood, Éluard contracted tuberculosis and interrupted his studies. He met Gala, born Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, whom he married in 1917, in the Swiss sanatorium of Davos. Together they had a daughter named Cecile.
Around this time Éluard wrote his first poems. He was particularly inspired by Walt Whitman. In 1918, Jean Paulhan “discovered” him and introduced him to André Breton and Louis Aragon. This was his introduction to the Surrealist movement.
After a marital crisis, he travelled, returning to France in 1924. His poems of this time reflect his difficulties during the period, in which he had another bout of tuberculosis and separated from Gala when she left him for Salvador Dalí.
In 1934, he married Nusch (Maria Benz), a model of friends Man Ray and Pablo Picasso, who was considered somewhat of a mascot of the surrealist movement. During World War II, he was involved in the French Resistance. He battled also with his poems, such as his 1942 poem Liberty. His work was quite militant, yet simple.
Milan Kundera has recalled he was shocked when he heard of Paul Eluard's public approval of the hanging of Kundera's friend, the Prague writer Zavis Kalandra in 1950. 
After the premature death of Nusch, he met his last love, Dominique, and dedicated his work The Phoenix to her.
Paul Éluard died from a heart attack in November 1952. He is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.
The poems in The Capital of Pain (La Capitale de la Douleur) inspired the 1965 Jean-Luc Godard film Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution.
Paul Eluard: Poems
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