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Jean Giraudoux

French, 1882 - 1944

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A diplomat by career, Giraudoux was also among the most distinguished and original modern French authors. He made his name first with novels, written in a highly personal and impressionistic style (and often containing charming portraits of young girls who combine extreme sophistication with disarming innocence), e.g. Provinciales (1909); Simon le pathétique (1918); Suzanne et le Pacifique (1921) Siegfried et le Limousin (1922); Juliette au pays des hommes (1924); Bella (1926); Églantine (1926); Combat avec l'ange (1927); Les Aventures de Jérôme Bardini (1930); and Choix des élues (1939).

In 1928 Giraudoux turned to play writing, with even greater success. His irony, amused sympathy, poetical fancy, and constant use of paradox and imagery (fatiguing at times in the novels) lent themselves to the discipline of dramatic form and stylized dialogue. His dramatic personages belong to a world of fairy-tale and classical myth, but their inconsistencies are human and they symbolize the conflicts which agitate humanity. His dramatic output included: Siegfried (1928); Amphitryon 38 (1929); Judith (1931); Intermezzo (1933); Le Guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu (1935); Électre (1937); L'Impromptu de Paris (1937); Cantique des cantiques (1938); Ondine (1939); and two plays produced during World War II, Sodome et Gomorrhe and La Folle de Chaillot (1943 and 1945).

Giraudoux's occasional collections of essays, critical and patriotic, include Lectures pour une ombre (1917); Adorable Clio (1920); Les Cing Tentations de La Fontaine (1938); Pleins pouvoirs (1939), on the position of France in the world, and Littérature (1941). (extrapolated from The Oxford Companion to French Literature, Oxford, 1986, 311-312)

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