Robert Desnos

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Robert Desnos 1924

Robert Desnos [ ʁɔˈbɛːʁ dɛsˈnoːs ] (born July 4, 1900 in Paris , † June 8, 1945 in Theresienstadt ) was a French writer and journalist . Influenced in particular by Nerval and Baudelaire , he wrote mainly poetry - even in the concentration camp . One of his main subjects was love. Ehrenburg quotes Paul Éluard approvingly : “Of all the poets I knew, Desnos was the most immediate, the most free; he was a poet who never left inspiration; he could speak as hardly a poet can write. He was the bravest of them all. "


Robert Desnos and his muse Youki Foujita, 1933
Plaque on his home in Paris

Desnos left his middle-class family at the age of sixteen, joined anarchist circles, and did odd jobs. After his military service in Morocco , the young writer joined the Parisian Dadaists around Tristan Tzara , André Breton , Paul Éluard, Philippe Soupault , Max Ernst and Francis Picabia in 1919 . In the "time of sleep" Desnos was primarily concerned with researching the unconscious and made numerous dream protocols. He stayed above water as a journalist, for example for the surrealist magazine La Révolution Surréaliste (twelve issues, 1924–1929) and for Eugène Merle's Paris-Matinal .

Punished by André Breton in the Second Surrealism Manifesto in 1930, Desnos responded with an article in the anti-Breton pamphlet Un Cadavre (A Cadaver), to which Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes , Georges Bataille , Jacques Prévert , Georges Limbour , Roger Vitrac , Antonin Artaud , Philippe Soupault, André Masson and Jacques-André Boiffard . According to Winfried Engler , he set himself apart from the surrealist "aesthetics of incomprehensibility". Another point of contention was the Communist Party , from which Desnos distanced himself in contrast to Breton.

During this time he met the Japanese (and much-acclaimed muse ) Youki Foujita, who became his lover. Tired of the newspaper business, he became an employee of a housing agency in 1931. From 1935 he worked mainly for radio. In the newspaper Aujourd'hui he polemicized against the (right-hand) writer Celine . Active in the French resistance movement Résistance , he was arrested in 1944 because of a denunciation by the German occupying forces. He went through several concentration camps and had to do forced labor in armaments production in Flöha , in a satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp . Desnos fell ill with typhus and died a few weeks after the Theresienstadt concentration camp was liberated .


  • Deuil pour deuil , poems, 1924
  • La Liberté ou l'amour , Paris 1927
  • L'etoile de mer , film, 1928 (with Man Ray )
  • Corps et biens , poems 1921–1929, Paris 1930
  • Sans-cou , poems, 1934
  • La cantate pour l'inauguration du Musée de l'Homme , cantata, 1937 (together with Darius Milhaud )
  • Fortunes , poems, Paris 1942
  • Le vin est tiré , Roman, Paris 1943
  • Etat de veille , poems, 1943
published posthumously
  • Choix de poèmes , poems, 1946
  • Ouvres posthumes , poems, 1947
  • Domaine public , poems, 1953

For some editions / selected volumes in German, see the National Library link


  • Pierre Berger: Robert Desnos. Paris 1949.
  • Rosa Buchole: L'evolution poétique de Robert Desnos. Brussels 1956.
  • Ilja Ehrenburg : People - Years - Life. (Memoirs), Munich 1962, special edition Munich 1965, Volume II 1923–1941, pages 173–179 (portrait), ISBN 3-463-00512-3 .
  • Mary Ann Caws: The surrealist voice of Desnos. USA 1977.
  • Reinhard JA Pohl: The metamorphoses of the negative hero ... Desnos. Hamburg 1977.
  • Marie-Claire Dumas: Robert Desnos ou l'exploration des limites. 1980.
  • HL Davis: Robert Desnos: Une voix, un chant, un cri. 1981.
  • Marie-Claire Dumas: Moi qui suis Desnos. 1987.
  • Marie-Claire Dumas (Ed.): Cahier de l'Herne. Special issue Desnos, 1987.
  • Michel Murat: Robert Desnos: les grands jours du poète. Paris 1988.
  • Dominique Desanti : Robert Desnos: le roman d'une vie. Mercure de France, 1999.
  • André Bessière: Destination Auschwitz avec Robert Desnos. Paris 2001, ISBN 2-7475-0180-9 .
  • Anne Egger: Robert Desnos. éditions Fayard, 2007.
  • Marie-Claire Dumas (Ed.): Robert Desnos, le poète libre. éditions Indigo / Université de Picardie Jules Verne, 2007.
  • Werner Streletz : The freest of all poets: on the way with Robert Desnos: Novelle . Bochum: projektverlag, 2017

Web links

Commons : Robert Desnos  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. “Das Phonetik-Blog”, January 21, 2009
  2. According to Kindler's New Literature Lexicon , Munich 1988 edition
  3. ^ Munich 1965, page 173
  4. ^ Ehrenburg Munich 1965, page 174
  5. Winfried Engler : Lexicon of French Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 388). 3rd, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-520-38803-0 .
  6. Ehrenburg (Munich 1965, p. 173) cites Desnos' demand that a poet must understand and be understood
  7. Ehrenburg Munich 1965, page 175