Jacques Prévert

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Jacques Prévert in the 1961 film Mon frère Jacques

Jacques Prévert (born February 4, 1900 in Neuilly-sur-Seine , Paris , † April 11, 1977 in Omonville-la-Petite , Département Manche ) was a French author .


Unusually popular as a poet, Prévert grew up in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine and then in Paris itself. His father was a theater critic and often took him to performances, his mother encouraged him to read. At the age of 15 he left school bored and worked in a Paris department store. In 1920 he met the later surrealist painter Yves Tanguy and the later writer Marcel Duhamel while doing military service ; In 1925 he joined the group of surrealists through another literary friend, Raymond Queneau , from which he (like several other members) soon drove the authoritarian behavior of the group leader André Breton . As a replacement, he founded his own group, the “Prévert gang”, with his younger brother Pierre and Tanguy, Queneau and others.

The grave of Jacques Prévert in the Omonville-la-Petite cemetery (Normandy)

In 1928 he tried his hand at producing films with brother Pierre. 1932-36 he wrote plays for the left amateur theater Octobre , because in these years he too, like so many intellectuals in this politically polarized time, was close to the communists, although his nature was not a man of party discipline, but rather an anarchist .

He has also been writing poetry for a long time; but from the mid-30s he made a name for himself, above all as a screenwriter for the films of his brother and the epoch-making directors Jean Renoir ( Das Verbrechen des Herr Lange , 1936) and Marcel Carné (including Drôle de drame , 1937; Hafen im Nebel , 1938; The day breaks , 1939; The night with the devil , 1942; Children of Olympus , 1944; Les portes de la nuit , 1946) and thus became a co-founder of Poetic Realism .

In 1946 a friend printed a collection of Préverts previously scattered in magazines or unpublished poems. The success of the small volume entitled Paroles was enormous and made Prévert the most representative and influential French poet of the mid-century. Many of his poems, especially by Joseph Kosma , have been set to music for chansons that have been picked up by well-known singers. His lyrics Les feuilles mortes were sung by Juliette Gréco , Yves Montand and many others, and as Autumn Leaves it became the jazz standard . One of the classics in this collection is Barbara , which deals with the bombing of the city of Brest during the Second World War. Some later volumes of poetry were also successful, but without overshadowing Paroles (including Histoires , 1946; Spectacle , 1951; La Pluie et le beau temps , 1955; Fratras , 1966; Choses et autres , 1972; La Cinquième Saison , posthumously 1984 ).

From 1948 Prévert was disabled by neurological problems after lying in a coma for days after falling from a poorly secured French door. In 1971 he left his home in Antibes and moved to Omonville-la-Petite near his old friend Alexandre Trauner . Both are buried there in the small cemetery.

Prévert's trademark as a lyricist is the simplicity and comprehensibility of most of his poems, which are full of sophisticated puns and surprising metaphors , but still exude an immediate poeticism and convey a catchy message. Many of them, especially those who shape human-all-too-human ongoing topics such as striving for freedom, love, happiness and disappointment, still appeal to readers today and are gladly discussed in class. The numerous politically motivated poems by Prévert, e.g. B. against militarism, the church and the bourgeois conventions, have meanwhile become documents in need of comment.


  • Dejeuner du matin (1945)
  • Paroles (1946)
  • Contes pour enfants pas sages (1947)
  • Les enfants qui s'aiment (1949)
  • Spectacle (1951)
  • Lettre des îles Baladar (1952)
  • Tour de chant (1953)
  • La pluie et le beau temps (1955)
  • Histoires (1963)
  • Fatras (1966)



  • Richard Brütting: Didactic literary communication research: Jacques Prévert as a textbook author [sic, recte: "as a school author"]. Schöningh, Paderborn 1986.
  • Yves Courrière: Jacques Prévert: en vérité , Paris: Gallimard, 2000. ISBN 2-07-074055-2
  • Frieda Grafe : For the midinettes - Jacques Prévert - poems, collages, films, photos . First published in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from 14./15. August 1982. In: In close-up - authors' policy and beyond (= selected writings in individual volumes, 7th volume). Brinkmann & Bose, Berlin 2005. ISBN 3-922660-90-8 . Pp. 97-105.
  • Peter Nau : Jacques Prévert, cineast . In: Film Review No. 320 from August 1983.
  • Wolfgang Schwarzer: Jacques Prévert 1900 - 1977. in Jan-Pieter Barbian (Red.): Vive la littérature! French literature in German translation. Edited and published by Duisburg City Library . ISBN 978-3-89279-656-5 , p. 25 with ill.
  • Anja Sieber: The scorn of fear. Jacques Prévert's social criticism in Marcel Carné's films . Avinus, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-930064-00-7

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A bailiff like his ancestor Villon in Zeit Online
  2. ^ The poems of Jacques Prévert in the German digital library - Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg
  3. ^ Jacques Prévert: Les enfants qui s'aiment. (No longer available online.) Feelingsurfer.net, archived from the original on March 1, 2009 ; Retrieved February 23, 2009 .