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Claude Simon

Biography

Claude Simon was born in 1913 in Tananarive, Madagascar, where his father was serving in the marines. The family returned to France at the outbreak of war in 1914. Simon’s father was killed later that year fighting near Verdun. His mother died of cancer ten years later and he was brought up by a cousin of his mother, a retired cavalry officer. Initially, he looked determined to follow a naval career but then he started studying painting under André Lhote. With a small income from his inheritance, he travelled around Europe before doing his military service. He then went to Barcelona to help with the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War but was soon disillusioned and returned to France. He took up painting again and then travelled again, visiting Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, among others.

In 1939 he was mobilised but his regiment was crushed by the Germans and he was taken prisoner. He managed to escape and return to Perpignan, where he painted, wrote and joined the resistance. He had to flee when the local militia suspected him of being in the resistance and he went to Paris where he continued his resistance activities. At the end of the war his first novel was published. He married in 1951 but then had a serious attack of tuberculosis.

In 1956 he met Alain Robbe-Grillet who introduced him to Editions de Minuit. He met Michel Butor soon afterwards and the Nouveau roman was born. He has remained at the forefront of French literature and, in 1985, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 2005.

Other sites

Claude Simon
Claude Simon
Claude Simon
Interview
Obituary
Obituary
Claude Simon (in French)
Claude Simon (in French)
Claude Simon (in French)
Textes de Claude Simon parus en revues entre 1955 et 1985 (in French)
Interview (in French)

Bibliography

1945 Le Tricheur (The Cheat)
1947 La Corde raide (The Tightrope)
1952 Gulliver
1954 Le Sacre du printemps (The Anointment of Spring)
1957 Le Vent (The Wind)
1958 L’Herbe (The Grass)
1960 Où chante la forêt
1960 La Route des Flandres (The Flanders Road)
1962 Le Palace (The Palace)
1966 Femmes (later: La chevelure de Bérénice) (Women; Berenice’s Hair)
1967 Histoire (Story)
1969 La Bataille de Pharsale (The Battle of Pharsalus)
1970 Orion aveugle (Blind Orion)
1971 Les Corps conducteurs (Conducting Bodies)
1973 Triptyque (Triptych)
1975 Leçon de choses (The World About Us)
1980 La planète bleue
1981 Les Géorgiques (The Georgics)
1987 L’Invitation (The Invitation)
1989 L’Acacia (The Acacia)
1997 Le jardin des plantes (The Jardin Des Plantes)
2001 Le tramway (The Trolley)
2009 Archipel et Nord