Pierre Emmanuel was the pseudonym of Noël Mathieu who was born in Gan in the Pyrénées in1916. He died in Paris in 1984. He came to the United States on a fellowship after he finished his studies at a religious institute. Pierre Emmanuel's religious education had a profound effect on him as a writer. His encounter with Pierre Jean Jouve in 1938 propelled him toward a career as a poet. His talents as a poet were demonstrated in his early publications Élégies (1940) and Tombeau d'Orphée (1941). With Jour de colère (1942), Combats avec tes défenseurs (1945) and La liberté guide nos pas (1946), he affirmed his poetic and humanistic engagement in the Résistance during the Second World War. His work continued in the same vein until Le grand oeuvre, the final book that was published in 1984, a few weeks before his death.
At the time of his death, he was one of the most important and versatile figures writing in France. His importance as a literary figure, primarily as a poet, was crowned by his election to the Académie française and numerous literary prizes. As a journalist, his contributions were obvious to any visitor in Paris reading the most respected newspapers such as Le monde and Le figaro. For many years he published a weekly contribution in the paper France catholique, and in protestant papers such as La réforme. He was regarded as a person who "defied" French society and challenged the human race in all aspects of humanism while, at the same time, accommodating modernism.
Pierre Emmanuel is well known for his contribution to many concerns of pedagogy in French schools and for his involvement in the organization of the educational system in France. He was the President of the Commission for Reforms in the teaching of French. He was a Visiting Professor and Lecturer in several American and Canadian Universities, including Harvard, and earned honorary Doctorates from Oxford (England), Neuchâtel (Switzerland), Pennsylvania (USA), and Montreal (Canada). He is highly respected among American intellectuals. Pierre Emmanuel was the President of the International PEN Club from 1969 to 1971. He is the author of over 50 books and several hundred articles. Most of his works can be found in the Wichita State University Ablah Library. His complete poetic works have been re-edited in two volumes Oeuvres poétiques complètes I (2001) and Oeuvres poétiques complètes II (2003), with annotations at the Editions de L'Age d'Homme. For a complete bibliography of Pierre Emmanuel, see Ginette Adamson Bibliographie de Pierre Emmanuel, Editions de L'Age d'Homme, 2004. Professor Adamson (Wichita State University) is a literary executor of the estate of Pierre Emmanuel.
PIERRE EMMANUEL, 1916-1984
A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Born Noël Mathieu on May 3rd 1916 in Gan (Basses-Pyrénées), France, he changes his name later to Pierre Emmanuel.
Mathematical and philosophical studies.
Professor in Pontoise, Cherbourg, Dieulefit.
During the war Pierre Emmanuel participates in the fight against the occupation and becomes a member of the departmental Committee of the "Résistant de la Drôme."
From 1945 to 1959, after the Liberation, he is the Director of English and North American Services for RTF (Radio?diffusion française).
His journalism career starts in 1945 and he collaborates in Papers such as France catholique, Le Figaro, Témoignaqe chrétien, Réforme, and reviews like Esprit, Table ronde and Preuves. He becomes Co-Director of the weekly paper Les étoiles.
During 1950-1953 Pierre Emmanuel is a Visiting Professor at Harvard and later at several other American Universities: Johns Hopkins, Brandies, Buffalo and Queen' s. He is invited to give numerous lectures in the United States and Canada.
Adjunct General Secretary in 1964, Director in 1967, Pierre Emmanuel becomes in 1974-1977 President of the International Association for the Freedom of Culture.
In 1968, Pierre Emmanuel is elected to the Académie Française. He resigns in 1975 as protest against the election of the writer Félicien Marceau who was said to have participated in Nazi activities during the war. Because of the status of "immortality" for members at the Académie, his seat is kept and he stays an official member until his death. Pierre Emmanuel is the only person who has ever resigned from this so highly desired and honorable Assembly.
From 1969 to 1971, Pierre Emmanuel is President elect of International PEN Club, and from 1973 to 1976, the President of the French PEN Club.
He is President of the Commission for the Reform of the Teaching of French in 1970.
In 1971-1973 Pierre Emmanuel is President of the Commission for Cultural Affaires.
In 1975 Pierre Emmanuel is elected Director of the National Institute of Audiovisual. Resignation in 1979
In 1979 Pierre Emmanuel is a Cultural Delegate and member of the Political Council of the RPR and an avid supporter of human rights. He is the founder of the Committee for the Support of the "Charte des 77." Pierre Emmanuel becomes the President of the Association of the Friends of Soljenitsyne.
In 1980 Emmanuel is in charge of the Vidéothèque de Paris.
Pierre Emmanuel is until his death an Officer of the Légion d'Honneur, an Officer of Arts and Letters and a Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit.
Prix Saint Vincent 1945
Prix Capri 1958
Grand Prix de la Poésie Française 1968 (offered by the Académie Française)
Premier Grand Prix de Poésie Obsidiane de la Ville de Sens 1980 (for his entire works)
Prix Alfred de Vigny 1982 (for his entire works)
DOCTORATE HONORIS CAUSA:
University of Neuchatel
University of Pennsylvania
University of Montreal
Pierre Emmanuel is the author of over 50 books and several hundred articles.
November 22, 1984 Pierre Emmanuel dies in Paris.
A commemorative plaque has been placed on the wall of the apartment shared with his wife, the painter Janine Loo, at 61 rue de Varenne in Paris, not far from the Rodin Museum.