French poet and freedom fighter.

Initially wrote mainly of Provence where he was born, in 1907, where he grew up, and where he still lives. Studied at the lycee in Avignon and later at the University in Aix. He became known as one of the early surrealist poets. Then WWII and the Occupation of France, where his experience as leader of a Maquis group of Resistance fighters forever affected his work.1 His code name in the group was Hypnos (god of Sleep and Dream). The experience of the war channeled his major themes, furnished the substance and many of the subjects of his later poems. The confusion and terror of Nazi occupation produced in Char a 'rage to compress' into aphorisms and short bursts of prose.


Further reading:

  • Leaves of Hypnos / René Char (NY : Grossman 1973)
  • Selected poems of René Char (NY : New Directions Book, c1992)
  • The Dawn breakers / René Char (Newcastle upon Tyne : Bloodaxe Books, 1992)
  • Hypnos Waking / Jackson Matthews (Random House, 1956)

1The French Resistance at this time, it should be noded also included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir and Samuel Beckett : think of the film potential in that...