gigatos | June 7, 2022
Joseph Delteil is a French writer and poet born on April 20, 1894 in Villar-en-Val in the Aude and died on April 12, 1978 in Grabels in the Hérault.
Joseph Delteil was born on the farm of La Pradeille to a father who was a lumberjack and a coal miner and a mother who was a “bushwacker. He spent the first four years of his childhood at the Borie (a dry-stone building) in Guillamau, 30 kilometers south of Carcassonne, in the Val de Dagne. All that remains of this farmhouse are a few stumps of wall, which can still be seen while walking along the “Poetry Trail” – at the entrance of which one can read “Here time goes by foot” – created by Magalie Arnaud, mayor of Villar-en-Val, and her friends to honor the memory of the poet.
In 1898, his father bought a parcel of vineyards in Pieusse (30 kilometers away, near Limoux). It was there, Delteil would say, that he was born, in the heart of the Blanquette de Limoux region, “where the landscape widens, where one goes from the forest to the sun, from Occitan to French. He stayed there until his school certificate (1907), then he joined the Saint-Louis school in Limoux. He was then a student at the Saint-Stanislas college (minor seminary) in Carcassonne.
Thanks to Pierre Mac Orlan, he published his first novel, Sur le fleuve Amour, in 1922, which attracted the attention of Louis Aragon and André Breton, for whom this work “compensated for so many devils in the body. Delteil contributes to the journal Littérature and participates in the writing of the pamphlet Un cadavre written in reaction to the national funeral held for Anatole France (October 1924). Breton cites him in his Manifesto of Surrealism as one of those who have made “act of absolute surrealism.
On May 24, 1924, at the Soirée du Claridge where the former Corps des Pages de Russie gave a charity ball, a fashion show with costumes by Sonia Delaunay illustrated a poem by Joseph Delteil La mode qui vient.
“The appearance of this group raised the applause of the mundane assembly.”
The publication, in 1925, of Joan of Arc, a work awarded the Prix Femina, aroused the rejection of surrealists and Breton in particular, despite the scandal triggered by the non-conformist vision of the “Maid of Orleans. This work is, for Breton, a “vast scum”. Delteil participated in the first issue of La Révolution surréaliste, but after an interview in which he declared that he never dreamed, he received a letter of rupture from Breton.
In 1931, he became seriously ill and left literature and Parisian life for the south of France. In 1937, he moved to the Tuilerie de Massane (in Grabels near Montpellier) where he lived until his death as a peasant-writer, together with his wife, Caroline Dudley, who was the creator of the Revue Nègre.
In his Occitan retreat, he maintained solid friendships with writers (Henry Miller, etc.), poets (Frédéric Jacques Temple, etc.), singers (Charles Trenet, Georges Brassens), painters (Pierre Soulages), actors (Jean-Claude Drouot, etc.). By publishing, in 1968, La Deltheillerie, he regained some of the fame of the 1920s, supported by personalities such as Jacques Chancel, Jean-Louis Bory, Michel Polac, Jean-Marie Drot.
He is buried, as well as his wife Caroline, who died in 1982, in the cemetery of Pieusse.
Also read, biographies – Matti Nykänen