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Valry, Paul

Valry, Paul p?l vl?r? [key], 1871?1945, French poet and critic. A follower of the symbolists, Valry was one of the greatest French poets of the 20th cent. He was encouraged by Pierry Loys and by Mallarm to publish a few poems in several small reviews, but he soon turned from poetry to prose with La Soire avec M. Teste (1896; tr. An Evening with Mr. Teste, 1925). In 1912, Gide and other admirers urged him to publish a collection of his early poems. A brief valedictory to poetry, which he had planned to add to the collection, grew into his masterpiece, La Jeune Parque (1917). It is a long and somewhat obscure poem, which, together with Le Cimetire marin (1920; tr. The Graveyard by the Sea, 1932), offers the best example of Valry's poetics. In 1920 appeared Odes and Album de vers anciens, followed in 1922 by Charmes. His prose works include five collections of essays, all called Varit (1924?44; partial tr. Variety, 1927, 1938), and four dialogues on subjects ranging from the arts to mathematics and the sciences. He succeeded Anatole France in the French Academy in 1925. Between the world wars Valry was a member of the Committee of Letters and Arts of the League of Nations, serving as its president in the 1930s. Valry held the chair of poetry at the Collge de France. A recipient of many honors, he was accorded a state funeral at his death. Publication (in English) of a projected 15-volume edition of The Collected Works of Paul Valry, edited by Jackson Mathews, was begun in 1956.

See studies by H. A. Grubbs (1968), W. N. Ince (2d ed. 1970), and C. M. Crow (1972); bibliography by A. J. Arnold (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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