Pierre Reverdy image
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Born in September 13, 1889 / Died in June 17, 1960 / France / French


Other info : Career | Furtherreading | Bibliography

Reverdy began his career as a poet when he moved to Paris in 1910. His supporting father died a year later, so the aspiring poet was forced to eke out a living through his writing. He published his first small volume of poetry in 1915 and continued to write steadily thereafter. Gradually Reverdy became known in literary circles, frequenting the avant-garde group consisting of such wellknown artists and writers as Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Georges Braque. With these and other artists, Reverdy helped develop cubism and surrealism. In 1917 he founded the monthly literary review, Nord-Sud, which drew together the first cubists and surrealists. The review featured many innovative authors, including Apollinaire, Jacob, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, and Philippe Soupault.

When the collection of his early poems, Les Epaves du ciel, appeared in 1924, Reverdy achieved greater recognition as a poet. This early work showed the definite influence of cubism and surrealism. The surrealists praised Reverdy as the greatest living poet. His poems were short and fragmentary with a sharp visual appearance which was compatible with the cubist feel for plastic values. The loneliness and spiritual apprehension which ran through his poetry attracted the surrealists. Despite this influence by both modes of thought, Reverdy remained independent: he searched for something other than the goals of cubism or surrealism. He endeavored to find "the sublime simplicity of true reality." His writing became more mystical and attempted to delve beneath outward appearances to discover the concealed truth. In his quest, Reverdy became a Catholic and retired to a life of ascetic seclusion near the Benedictine monastery at Solesmes in 1926. He stayed there for the remainder of his life, devoting his time to his poetry and his religion. Reverdy's later poetry became more condensed, containing no excess verbiage and often omitting connecting thoughts. Soupault claimed that Reverdy "with Paul Eluard, . . . is the purest of the writers of his time."