(September 2013)

Librairie Arthème Fayard , collection “Literary biographies”

September 2013, 560 pages, 23,50 x 15,30 cm, connected, 32,00 €
ISBN 978-2-213-66900-7, EAN 9782213669007

Back Cover

When Alexis Leger discovered Saint-John Perse ? When one placed himself behind or in front of the other ? Why Alexis Leger wanted Saint-John Perse remains asleep for more than fifteen years in the treasury of his imagination ? How Saint-John Perse resurrected when he left for New York in June 1940, humiliated by Hitler, slandered by a woman who hated her he loved.

Since childhood in the Islands, in the Gobi desert or on the sea, at the helm of the Quai d'Orsay, in exile, in loneliness or love, Saint-John Perse dreamed his life and tryed to fit the facts to his ideal. When he could not get, he wrote for "better living".

Fatherless at 20 years, he eagerly sought the friendship of adoptive parents. In literature : Francis Jammes, Gabriel Frizeau, André Gide and Paul Claudel. In politics : Philippe Berthelot and Aristide Briand. And throughout his exile in the United States, he was adopted by the talented and wealthy admirers, Mina Curtiss, Katherine Biddle and Beatrice Chanler.

In this richly documented literary biography, Henriette Levillain try to understand the enigma of a powerful personality, secret and controversial that was blamed his compulsive lying or have stuck in a Gaullist unsavory.

Henriette Levillain, professor emeritus at Paris 4 – Sorbonne, is the author of numerous books and articles on Saint-John Perse, its Caribbean origins and literary context. She has also published studies on dandyism, Baroque, Memoirs of Hadrian, The Princess of Cleves, Dante.

Presentation on the site Babelio

Alexis Leger / Saint-John Perse had wanted to cut the grass under the feet of his future biographers writing itself, in 1972, in the volume of the Pléiade, his biography in the form of a detailed chronology. And he completed a mandatory rule : ban connect Alexis Leger, diplomat, and Saint-John Perse, the poet. They were strangers to each other. Indeed, after his return from China, and despite the international success’Anabasis (1924), Alexis Leger seemed to have given to work as a poet and sacrificed his undeniable gift to the rise of a dazzling career. Composition of major works, Exile, Winds and Seamarks would have been as the result of an unfortunate accident, career abruptly interrupted by his dismissal 1940. Thence to consider poems as compensation for frustration, and Nobel as revenge laboriously obtained by means of intrigues, he was there not only, crossed by one of his recent biographers.
If Quarante ans, criticism has evolved from the stunning debut in the recent trial for false, in this literary biography, Henriette Levillain gives us the key to understanding rather than judging the mystery of the alleged boundary between two names, two lives. The recently published or unpublished testimonies, literary and diplomatic archives added to long familiarity of poetry allowed him to approach the secret tensions between Saint-John Perse appetite for glory and the essential need for solitude, between instinctive attraction to life wherever it is revealed and a paralyzing fear of disease, aging and death.