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Louis Aragon (1897–1982)

Louis Aragon (né Andrieux) was a major twentieth-century figure in multiple sectors of the intellectual life of Paris, where he was born and died. After service in the First World War, Aragon was, along with André Breton, one of the pioneers of the surrealist movement, following upon his own engagement with Dadaism in the immediate post-war period. A veteran of the Resistance, Aragon had officially joined the French Communist Party in 1927. He is notable among French Communist intellectuals for his continued adherence to the party until his death in 1982, and this notwithstanding his own severe criticisms of Stalinism and his support of the events of May ’68 and the Prague Spring against the official ‘party line’. As for his literary career, Aragon operated in many forms, producing prose, poetry, and numerous essays. He was an editorial force behind the journals Commune (1933–1939) and Ce Soir (1933–1937), and served as the main editor for the literary supplement of the Communist paper L’Humanité from 1953 to 1972. Despite his commitment to socialist realism for a period in the middle of the century, Aragon’s own writing was marked by a commitment to formal innovation and contributions to virtually every novel ‘form’ the twentieth-century French novel took, from surrealism to the nouveau roman. The exigencies of Aragon’s formal style, and their bearing on a formalized account of the subject and its errant status in writing, are explored by Jean-Claude Milner in volume seven of the Cahiers in an assessment of Aragon’s novel La Mise à mort (1965).

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Jacques-Alain Miller and François Regnault, ‘Avertissement: L’orientation du roman’, CpA 7.Introduction [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Jean-Claude Milner, ‘Grammaire d’Aragon’, CpA 7.2 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]

Select bibliography

  • Le Paysan de Paris. Paris : Gallimard, 1926. Paris Peasant, trans. Simon Watson Taylor. Boston: Exact Change, 1994.
  • Pour un réalisme socialiste. Paris: Denoël et Steele, 1935.
  • Les Beaux quartiers. Paris: Denoël et Steele, 1936.
  • Les Yeux d’Elsa. Neuchâtel: Éditions de la Baconnière, 1942.
  • Aurélien. Paris : Gallimard, 1944.
  • La Semaine sainte. Paris : Gallimard, 1958. Holy Week, trans. Haakon Chevalier. New York: Putnam, 1961.
  • Le Fou d’Elsa. Paris : Gallimard, 1963.>
  • La Mise à mort. Paris : Gallimard, 1965.

[N.B. Virtually all of Aragon’s writings are available in Folio or other paperback editions from Gallimard. Aragon’s complete writings are also available in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, in two separate collections: Oeuvres romanesques complètes, 3 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1997, 2000, 2003; and Oeuvres poètiques complètes, 2 vols. Paris : Gallimard, 2007.]