Paul Claudel (1868-1955)
Paul Claudel (August 6, 1868 - February 23, 1955) wrote poetry, plays and essays, all inspired by his strong Catholic faith. He was born in France but started a career in economic affairs, which took him to America, China, and South America. He served as French ambassador to Washington D.C. from 1928 to 1933. Claudel’s Symbolist plays gained him the largest following for his work, as they were quite powerful: they portrayed people in power fighting their intense human desires and ultimately becoming redeemed. He used the same types of symbols repeatedly to get across similar themes of redemption.
Claudel was the author of three memoirs, 23 plays, 14 volumes of poetry and 20 volumes of essays. The most famous of his plays are Le Partage de Midi/The Break of Noon (1906), L'Annonce Faite a Marie/The Annunciation of Mary (1910) and Le Soulier de Satin/The Satin Slipper (1931). He wrote the text for Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher/Joan of Arc at the Stake (1939), an "opera-oratario" with music by Arthur Honegger. Many of his plays were set to music by Darius Milhaud. An avid correspondent, 17 volumes of Claudel's letters have been published including volumes dedicated to Jean-Louis Barrault, Gaston Gallimard, Andre Gide, Francis Jammes, Darius Milhaud, Lugné-Poe, Jacques Rivière, and André Suarès.
He was elected to the Académie Française and received the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour.
written by Word Works intern Monica Root, September 2013; edited by Kim Roberts, January 2016.