Benjamin Péret  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Benjamin Péret (4 July 1899 - 18 September 1959) was a French poet and Surrealist.

Benjamin Péret was born in Rezé (Loire-Atlantique) on 4 July 1899, and enlisted in the army to avoid being jailed. He saw action in the Balkans, and served through the war. Afterwards, he joined the Dada movement, and in 1921 published Le Passager du transtlantique his first book of poetry. He left the Dada movement following André Breton and joined Surrealism.

He worked with and influenced other poets such as Octavio Paz. In the fall of 1924 he was the co-editor of the journal La Révolution surréaliste, becoming chief editor in 1925. In 1928, before living in Brazil (1929-1932), with his wife Elsie Houston, he published Le Grand Jeu. Buffetted by the winds of politics, he fought in the Spanish Civil War, met Nathalia Sedova, Trotsky's widow in Mexico City (1942-1948), and returned to France and then spent the remainder of his life in Paris. He was married to the Spanish artist Remedios Varo and they escaped Europe together with the help of the American based Emergency Rescue Committee. Barred from immigration to the United States because of Péret's political history they instead immigrated to Mexico where they lived together in Mexico City until their divorce in 1947.

Among Péret's other published works are the surrealist novel Mort aux vaches et au champ d'honneur (Death to the Pigs and the Field of Battle) (1922-23); La Brebis galante (The Elegant Ewe) (1924-49); Les Couilles enragees (Mad Balls) (1928); and L'Histoire naturelle (Natural History) (1958); as well as the poetry collections De derriere les faggots (From the Hidden Storehouse) (1934); Je ne mange pas de ce pain-la (I Won't Stoop to That) (1936); and Je Sublime (1936).

He died on 18 September 1959 in Paris.


  • Le Passager du transatlantique (1921)
  • 152 Proverbes mis au goût du jour, en collaboration avec Paul Éluard (1925)
  • Dormir, dormir dans les pierres (1927)
  • Le Grand Jeu (1928)
  • De derrière les fagots (1934)
  • Je sublime (1936)
  • Je ne mange pas de ce pain-là (1936)
  • Le Déshonneur des poètes (1945)
  • Dernier malheur dernière chance (1945)
  • Un point c'est tout (1946)
  • Air mexicain (1952)
  • Texte du film L'invention du monde réalisé par Michel Zimbacca en collaboration avec Jean-Louis Bédouin (1952)
  • Le Livre de Chilam Balam de Chumayel (1955)
  • Anthologie de l'amour sublime (1956)
  • Gigot, sa vie, son œuvre (1957)
  • Anthologie des mythes, légendes et contes populaires d’Amérique (1960)
  • Œuvres complètes, tomes I à III, Eric Losfeld / Association des amis de Benjamin Péret..
  • Œuvres complètes, Tome IV à VII, José Corti. / Association des amis de Benjamin Péret
  • Pour un second manifeste communiste avec Grandizo Munis du Fomento Obrero Revolucionario Ed. Losfeld (1965)
  • Edition populaire : Le déshonneur des poètes suivi de La parole est à Péret, avec une postface de Joël Gayraud, Editions Mille et une nuits, Paris, 1996.

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