Jean Paulhan

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Jean Paulhan
Paulhan in 1938
Paulhan in 1938
Born2 December 1884
Nîmes, Gard, France
Died9 October 1968(1968-10-09) (aged 83)
Paris, France
OccupationTeacher, translator
Notable worksThe Flowers of Tarbes, or Terror in Literature
PartnerAnne Desclos
RelativesFrédéric Paulhan (father)

Jean Paulhan (2 December 1884 – 9 October 1968) was a French writer, literary critic and publisher, director of the literary magazine Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF) from 1925 to 1940 and from 1946 to 1968. He was a member (Seat 6, 1963–68) of the Académie française. He was born in Nîmes (Gard) and died in Paris.


Paulhan's father was the philosopher Frédéric Paulhan[1]:11 and his mother was Jeanne Thérond. From 1908 to 1910 he worked as a teacher in Madagascar, and he later translated Malagasy poems, or Hainteny, into French.[2]

Paulhan's translations attracted the interest of Guillaume Apollinaire and Paul Éluard.[3]

He served as Jacques Rivière's secretary at the NRF, until 1925 when he succeeded him as the journal's editor.[1]:13 In 1935 he, Henri Michaux, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Groethuysen and others launched a similar but more luxuriously-produced journal Mesures, under the direction of Henry Church.[4]

One of his most famous works of literary criticism was The Flowers of Tarbes, or Terror in Literature (1941), a study of the nature of language in fiction.[5] Paulhan also wrote several autobiographical short stories; English translations of several appeared in the collection Progress in Love on the Slow Side.[6] During the Second World War, Paulhan was an early and active member of the French Resistance[2] and was arrested by the German Gestapo. After the war he founded Cahiers de la Pléiade and in 1953 re-launched La Nouvelle Revue Française.

Paulhan provoked controversy by opposing independence for Algeria, and supporting the French military during the Algerian War;[7] this resulted in a rift between Paulhan and his friend Maurice Blanchot.[8]

Author Anne Desclos revealed that she had written the novel Story of O as a series of love letters to her lover Paulhan,[9] who had admired the work of the Marquis de Sade.


  • Les Hain-Tenys Merinas (Geuthner, 1913, reissued 2007)
  • Le Guerrier appliqué (Sansot, 1917 ; Gallimard 1930, reissued 2006)
  • Jacob Cow le Pirate, ou Si les mots sont des signes (1921)
  • Le Pont traversé (1921, reissued 2006)
  • Expérience du proverbe (1925)
  • La Guérison sévère (1925, reissued 2006)
  • Sur un défaut de la pensée critique (1929)
  • Les Hain-Tenys, poésie obscure (1930)
  • Entretien sur des faits-divers (1930, 1945)
  • L'Aveuglette (1952)
  • Les Fleurs de Tarbes ou La terreur dans les Lettres (1936, 1941)
  • Jacques Decour (1943)
  • Aytre qui perd l'habitude (1920, 1943, reissued 2006)
  • Clef de la poésie, qui permet de distinguer le vrai du faux en toute observation, ou Doctrine touchant la rime, le rythme, le vers, le poète et la poésie (1945)
  • F.F. ou Le Critique (Gallimard, 1945; reissued by Éditions Claire Paulhan, 1998)
  • Sept causes célèbres (1946)
  • La Métromanie, ou Les dessous de la capitale (1946, reissued 2006)
  • Braque le Patron (1946)
  • Lettre aux membres du C.N.E. (1940)
  • Sept nouvelles causes célèbres (1947, reissued 2006)
  • Guide d'un petit voyage en Suisse (1947, reissued 2006)
  • Dernière lettre (1947)
  • Le Berger d’Écosse (1948, reissued 2006)
  • Fautrier l'Enragé (1949)
  • Petit-Livre-à-déchirer (1949)
  • Trois causes célèbres (1950)
  • Les Causes célèbres (1950, reissued 2006)
  • Lettre au médecin (1950, reissued 2006)
  • Les Gardiens (1951, reissued 2006)
  • Le Marquis de Sade et sa complice ou Les revanches de la Pudeur (1951)
  • Petite préface à toute critique (1951)
  • Lettre aux directeurs de la Résistance (1952)
  • La Preuve par l'étymologie (1953)
  • Les Paroles transparentes, avec des lithographies de Georges Braque (1955)
  • Le Clair et l'Obscur (1958)
  • G. Braque (1958)
  • De mauvais sujets, gravures de Marc Chagall (1958, reissued 2006)
  • Karskaya (1959)
  • Lettres (1961)
  • L'Art informel (1962)
  • Fautrier l'enragé (1962)
  • Progrès en amour assez lents (1966, reissued 2006)
  • Choix de lettres I 1917–1936, La littérature est une fête" (1986)
  • "Choix de lettres II 1937-1945, Traité des jours sombres" (1992)
  • Choix de lettres III 1946-1968, Le Don des langues (1996)
  • La Vie est pleine de choses redoutables (Seghers; reissued by Claire Paulhan, 1990)
  • "Lettres de Madagascar, 1907-1910", Éditions Claire Paulhan (2007)
  • "Œuvres complètes", edited by Bernard Baillaud, Volume I, Gallimard (2006).


  1. ^ a b Baillaud, Bernard; Cornick, Martyn (2004). "Jean Paulhan's Influences: The Review Demain". Yale French Studies (106): 11–25. doi:10.2307/3655211. ISSN 0044-0078. JSTOR 3655211.
  2. ^ a b Intellectuals in History: the Nouvelle Revue Française under Jean Paulhan, 1925-1940 by Martyn Cornick.Rodopi, 1995
  3. ^ A History of French literature: from chanson de geste to cinema by David Coward. Wiley-Blackwell, 2003 (pg. 439).
  4. ^ revues litteraires
  5. ^ The Flowers of Tarbes, Or, Terror in Literature by Jean Paulhan. Translated by Michael Syrotinski. University of Illinois Press, 2006
  6. ^ Progress in Love on the Slow Side (Progrès en amour assez lents): récits by Jean Paulhan. Contains Maurice Blanchot's essay on Paulhan, "The Ease of Dying". University of Nebraska Press, 1994.
  7. ^ "Even his (Paulhan's) friends were increasingly unsympathetic to some of his outspoken views towards the end of his life: he was, for example, in favour of Algeria remaining French..." Michael Syrotinski, Defying Gravity: Jean Paulhan's Interventions in Twentieth-Century French Intellectual History SUNY Press, 1998. ISBN 079143639X, (p.21-22).
  8. ^ "Blanchot indicates that he and Paulhan had fallen out over the Algerian situation in "La facilité de mourir"". Michael Kessler, Christian Sheppard, Mystics: Presence and Aporia. Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 2003. ISBN 0226432106 (p.202).
  9. ^ I wrote the story of O | By genre | Books

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Syrotinski, Defying Gravity: Jean Paulhan's Interventions in Twentieth-Century French Intellectual History (SUNY Press, 1998).
  • Anna-Louise Milne, The Extreme In-Between: Jean Paulhan's Place in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Legenda, 2006)
  • Jean Paulhan, On Poetry and Politics. Translated by Jennifer Bajorek, Eric Trudel and Charlotte Mandell (University of Illinois Press, 2008).
  • "Protean, Paradoxical Jean Paulhan", by John Taylor, 'Paths to Contemporary French Literature', volume 2, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2007, pp. 237–240.

External links[edit]