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  • Valéry and the air of his times
    Monique Allain-Castrillo
    The last of the great French symbolist poets, Paul Valéry had an apparently bourgeois life in a convulsive world struck by three wars: 1870-71 when he was born, 1914-18 the period in which he writes his best verses, and 1939-45, the year of his death, topped with a State funeral decreed by General de Gaulle, which was the first poetic "national rite" since Victor Hugo. He was always convinced that his life could have been "other", but fortunately for us, it was a life of "pure poetry". A "Dionysian man" in words of Moreno Villa, and "a geometric space of all contradictions" in his own words, his "obstinate" intellectual "rigor" (mostly coming from Ignacian and Juancruzanian roots) moved him to become passionate with the "mysticism" of science in his time. From Poincaré to Einstein, getting inspiration from electromagnetism and thermodynamics as models of mental function. Member of the French Academy and official poet of the Third French Republic, he chaired the organism that would later become the UNESCO, the Geneva League of Nations.
  • Ego scriptor
    Monique Allain-Castrillo

    Valéry was one of the few great French lyricists from the south of the Loire. Skeptic about all, in life and language, he always preferred the notions of variable and function above the ones of causality and finality. He was wary of literature but he has left us masterpieces among which T.S. Eliot and R.M. Rilke highlighted two poetic peaks, La Jeune Parque (in alexandrines) and Le Cimetière marin (decasyllabic), the first with a female protagonist like the El Cántico espiritual by San Juan de la Cruz (probably the spark lighting the crystallization of this great Valeryian creation of 1917), and the second with a masculine protagonist, "Grundtext der modeme Lyrik" in the words of the German critic, and "beatus ille", "catecismo" , "Biblia" , "influencia deslumbradora" in words of the Spanish critic, endorsed by the approximately 50 translations to Castilian and about 10 to Catalonian. Two universal poems, not about love, but about the awakening of conscience to the human condition and the construction of art in the happening.

    The publication of the 29 volumes  (1957-61 and 27.000 pages) of Valéry's Cahiers; a kind of spiritual exercises under open form against the closed great poems, and currently in the process of being reedited critically by a multinational team of specialists; the profile of the author of Monsieur Teste, Charmes and Variété  has changed dramatically. 

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