Paul Éluard Criticism - Essay

Eugène Grindel

Leroy J. Benoit (essay date 1951)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Benoit, Leroy J. “Poetic Themes of Paul Eluard.” Modern Language Quarterly 12, no. 2 (June, 1951): 216-29.

[In the following essay, Benoit provides an overview of central themes of Eluard's poetry during various phases of his life and career.]

The school of surrealism arising in 1924 between two conflicting poetic traditions, namely, the school of les voyants (Saint-Pol-Roux and Lautréamont) and the inspired mysticism of Claudel and Valéry, sought to bring its own measure of balance. Drawing its code from André Breton's Manifeste du surréalisme, it emphasized the application of literary formulas based upon a cooperative work collated from...

(The entire section is 5448 words.)

English Showalter, Jr. (essay date 1963)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Showalter, Jr., English. “Biographical Aspects of Eluard's Poetry.” PMLA 78, (1963): 280-86.

[In the following essay, Showalter discusses Eluard's poetry in the context of three key events in his life: a trip around the world in 1924, the dissolution of his marriage in 1930, and his break with surrealism in 1938.]

The life of Paul Eluard holds a remarkable number of mysteries for that of a man who became prominent rather young and whose friends frequently made a particular effort to have themselves talked about. Specifically, three crises from the first period of his career, when he was attached to the surrealist movement, are either avoided or barely...

(The entire section is 6093 words.)

Robert Nugent (essay date 1974)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Nugent, Robert. “Reality of Experience: The Theory of Love.” In Paul Eluard, pp. 50-69. New York: Twayne, 1974.

[In the following essay, Nugent discusses Eluard's love poetry in terms of the surrealist aesthetic.]


Eluard is perhaps best known as a love poet. Love, as a central theme of Eluard's poetry, becomes especially evident around 1923; yet, throughout his poetic career Eluard wrote poems about the experiences one has in being with another person, loving that person, and being without that person. He further expanded his individual involvement to involvement with humanity, the experiences one has in...

(The entire section is 6753 words.)

Eric Wayne (essay date 1979)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Wayne, Eric. “Oranges and Language in Eluard and Apollinaire.” Romance Notes XIX, no. 3 (spring, 1979): 302-06.

[In the following essay, Wayne discusses Eluard's most famous line of poetry: “The world is blue like an orange.”]

Eluard's most famous line, “La terre est bleue comme une orange,” which begins the seventh poem of “Premièrement,” in L'amour la poésie (1929), is also among his most discussed: references to it are found throughout Eluard criticism, and it figures in a novel (Le Clézio's Le Procès-verbal) where the protagonist questions its divergence from verifiable physical reality. The latter's dilemma resembles...

(The entire section is 1774 words.)

R.A. York (essay date 1980)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: York, R.A. “Eluard's Female Landscape.” Orbis Litterarum 35, no. 1 (1980): 59-73.

[In the following essay, York examines the recurring image of “woman as landscape” throughout Eluard's oeuvre.]

This paper seeks to place the image of woman as landscape, frequent in Eluard, in the structure of the poems in which it appears. The image most often indicates a transition within the poem from a state of personal identity to one of impersonality; but this basic structure is subject to systematic modifications affecting the character of the image and of the states preceding and succeeding it; thus poems may imply a range of different values...

(The entire section is 6542 words.)

Sonia Assa (essay date 1991)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Assa, Sonia. “Of Hairdressers and Kings: Ready-made Revelations in Les Malheurs des immortels.French Review 64, no. 3 (February, 1991): 643-58.

[In the following essay, Assa discusses Les Malheurs des immortels, a collaborative work of Eluard and Max Ernst, as a “true surrealist collaboration” which addresses some of the key questions raised by the surrealist movement.]

—Quel est ton passe-temps favori?

(Max Ernst: Histoire de ma vie)

When in 1922, Paul Eluard and Max Ernst published a book of poems and collages called Les Malheurs des immortels, André Breton had not yet written...

(The entire section is 6499 words.)

Katharine Conley (essay date 1994)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Conley, Katharine. “Writing the Virgin's Body: Breton and Eluard's Immaculée Conception.French Review 67, no. 4 (March, 1994): 600-08.

[In the following essay, Conley discusses the representation of women in L'Immaculée conception, a book of surrealist poetry co-written by Eluard and André Breton.]

For Andre Breton, Francis Picabia's work merited acclaim as both modern and surreal because, for Breton, Picabia: “demeure le maître de la surprise. … La surprise commande, en effet, toute la notion du ‘moderne’ au seul sens acceptable de préhension, de happement du futur dans le présent” (“Surréalisme” 221). “Le maître de...

(The entire section is 4034 words.)

Jonathan Strauss (essay date 2000)

(Poetry Criticism)

SOURCE: Strauss, Jonathan. “Paul Eluard and the Origins of Visual Subjectivity.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 33, no. 2 (June, 2000): 25-46.

[In the following essay, Strauss discusses modern theories of subjectivity and vision in terms of the early surrealist poetry of Eluard and André Breton.]

In 1975, clinical psychologists Michael Argyle and Mark Cook assessed the astounding progress recently made in gaze theory and noted admiringly that the field as a whole had existed for little over ten years. Since then, the gaze has become one of the defining intellectual issues of the late 20th-century, leading to significant innovations...

(The entire section is 9526 words.)