René Char (1907-1988)

René Char (documentary, 1967)

Char was born in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in the Vaucluse department of France, the youngest of four children of Emile Char and Marie-Therese Rouget, where his father was mayor and managing director of the Vaucluse plasterworks. He spent his childhood in Névons, the substantial family home completed at his birth, then studied as a boarder at the school of Avignon and subsequently, in 1925, a student at L'École de Commerce de Marseille, where he read Plutarch, François Villon, Racine, the German Romantics, Alfred de Vigny, Gérard de Nerval and Charles Baudelaire. He was tall (1.92 m) and an active rugby player. After briefly working at Cavaillon, in 1927 he performed his military service in the artillery in Nîmes.

Char's first book, Cloches sur le cœur was published in 1928 as a compilation of poems written between 1922-1926. In early 1929, he founded the journal Méridiens with Andre Cayatte and published three issues. In August, he sent a twenty-six copies of his book Arsenal, published in Nîmes, to Paul Éluard, who in the autumn came to visit him at L'Isle sur la Sorgue. In late November, Char moved to Paris, where he met Louis Aragon, André Breton, and René Crevel, and joined the surrealists. His "Profession de foi du sujet" was published in December in the twelfth issue of La Révolution surréaliste. He remained active in the surrealist movement through the early 1930s but distanced himself gradually from the mid 1930s onward.

Char joined the French Resistance in 1940, serving under the name of Captain Alexandre, where he commanded the Durance parachute drop zone. He wrote about these events in his prose poems Feuillets d'Hypnos in an extraordinary manner. During the 1950s and 1960s, despite brief and unhappy experiences in the theater and film, Char reached full maturity as a poet. In the 1960s, he joined the battle against the stationing of atomic weapons in Provence. He died of a heart attack in 1988 in Paris. The Hotel Campredon (also known as the Maison René Char) in L'Isle sur la Sorgue is a public collection of his manuscripts, drawings, paintings and objets d'art.

Char was a friend and close associate of Albert Camus, Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot among writers, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Victor Brauner among painters

The composer Pierre Boulez wrote three settings of Char's poetry, Le Soleil des eaux, Le visage nuptial, and Le Marteau sans maître. A late friendship developed also between Char and Martin Heidegger, who described Char's poetry as "a tour de force into the ineffable" and was repeatedly his guest at La Thor in the Vaucluse.-- Wikipedia