« Signé Douglas »
The correspondence of Saint-John Perse and Calouste Gulbenkian
Gerard Lamoureux, Delegate General Festival des Outre-Mers,
Henriette Levillain, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne,
Vasco Graça Moura, Director Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon.
This correspondence between the businessman-collector and poet-diplomat, archived at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, begins after the exile in the United States of Saint-John Perse and ends one year before the death of Gulbenkian (1946-1954). It is composed of 52 Letters of Alexis Leger, aka Saint John Perse (called Douglas), long and dense, and 37 letters Calouste Gulbenkian (Douglas also called ...).
Guessing legal and financial difficulties of Alexis Leger, the billionaire philanthropist offered him a regular allowance, in exchange for which he would get from the former diplomat information on the international political situation for the United States. The conversation between the two men intertwines two main themes : concerns, the Cold War, threats of a possible third world war ; the park development projects Pens. So we discovered two new faces of Saint-John Perse : a diplomat with global visions, marked by his personal experience of the disaster entered the war and the U.S. informed sources ; a landscape, land and climate expert Norman and botanical expert. The friendly conversational tone allows more intimate evocations, especially in these two hypochondriacs, health concerns, grief and sadness of the distance.
Of Armenian origin, creator of the Turkish Oil Company and great business man, Calouste Gulbenkian met Alexis Leger, then director of cabinet of Aristide Briand (1925). Gulbenkian was one of the most colossal fortunes of his time and a world-renowned collection of paintings. In France, it was divided between a Jena Avenue mansion topped by a terrace with a bird aviary and a park above Deauville, Les Enclos, where he planned to build a house.