Gascoyne, David (Emery)

Born Oct. 10, 1916, Harrow, Middlesex, England. Died Nov. 25, 2001, Isle of Wight.

English poet deeply influenced by the French Surrealist movement of the 1930s.

Gascoyne's first book of poems, Roman Balcony, appeared in 1932, and his only novel, Opening Day, the next year.

His important introductory work, A Short Survey of Surrealism (1935), and his verses Man's Life Is This Meat (1936) were milestones of the movement in England.

Poems 1937-42 (1943) marked the beginning of his religious verse and contains his noted good-bye to the '30s - his "Farewell Chorus."

Night Thoughts, a long, semidramatic poem, was broadcast in 1955 and published the next year.

Gascoyne's early poetry bears the Surrealist impress boldly, and through his translations and critical writings he did much to make the movement known in Britain. He was less interested in Surrealism's exploration of the subconscious than in its exploitation of visionary and mystical elements. Thus, when he abandoned Surrealism as an aesthetic guide at the end of the 1930s, it was only a short step to the powerful religious poetry of his later years.

Gascoyne's Collected Poems appeared in 1965. His Collected Verse Translations, chiefly from the French, was published in 1970.

Paris Journal 1937-1939 (1978) covers the years of his first visit to France. (He also lived there 1954-65.)

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French surrealist poetry in English translation by David Gascoyne

David Gascoyne homepage (chronology, bibliography, poetry, links)