Show themes

Poetry and song

Literature of the Liberation

In the catalogue accompanying this exhibition, Michel Murat describes the ‘triumph of the poetry of resistance’ in the period leading up to the liberation of Paris, in which Paul Éluard and Louis Aragon, both Communists and past members of the Surrealist movement, were the principal poets. The poems by Éluard are ubiquitous and are found in books on the liberation of Paris, in prisoners’ books and even in programmes for galas held in Paris after the Liberation. But there were two sides to resistance poetry; one was glory, about the War, victory and liberation. The other was disillusion, as the news of the concentration camps and the implications of the atomic bomb soured the peace that no longer seemed so glorious. After the Liberation, the style of the poetry of the Resistance was no longer considered modern and began to be overtaken by new poetry such as Jacques Prévert’s Paroles. Published in 1945 it became one of the four best-selling books of the post-war period. Of the sheet music published after the Liberation, Anna Marly’s Le chant de la liberation was the most popular while the cartoonist and broadcaster Maurice Van Moppès’s parodies of well-known songs were first published as pamphlets dropped over France by the Royal Air Force.