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French Hervé BAZIN

born Jean-Pierre HERVE-BAZIN

French writer

Source :  Association les COUSINS de la MARQUISE

Born: on April 17, 1911 in Angers, France
Died: on February 17, 1996 in Angers, France


Bazin had a difficult childhood living in a bigoted bourgeois family. He opposed his authoritarian mother, ran away several times during his teens, and refused Catholic teachings. At the age of 20 he broke up with his family.

During fifteen years of writing poetry with little success, Bazin worked in lots of small jobs. Notable work of this period include a poetic review in 1946, la Coquille (the shell, only eight volumes), and "À la poursuite d'Iris" in 1948.

Following the advice of Paul Valéry, he left poetry to focus on prose.

Childhood conflicts with his mother inspired the novel Viper in the Fist in 1948. The novel portrays the hatred between a mother nicknamed Folcoche (from the French "folle" (crazy) and "cochonne" (pig) and her children, including the narrator Jean Rezeau, called "Brasse-bouillon". Maurice Nadeau described the novel as "Atrides in duffle-coat". The book was immensely successful in postwar France, and was followed by La Mort du Petit Cheval and Le Cri de la Chouette to create a trilogy. In other works, Bazin returned to the theme of the family. In addition to novels, he also wrote short stories and essays.

Hervé Bazin became a member of the Académie Goncourt in 1958, replacing Francis Carco. He became its president in 1973, and was replaced, after his death, by Jorge Semprún, while the presidency was given to François Nourissier.

Politically, Hervé Bazin belonged to the Mouvement de la Paix, in relation with the communist party of which he was a sympathizer. He obtained the Lenin Peace Prize in 1979. This made Roger Peyrefitte say jokingly: "Hervé Bazin had two prize which fitted each other: the Lenin Peace Prize and the black humour prize."

In 1995, he gave his manuscripts and letters to the record office of the town of Nancy, which already owned the fund of the Goncourt brothers, who originated from the town. Due to a juridicial imbroglio, the six children of his first marriages obtained, against the will of his last spouse and last son, the auction of the fund at the Hôtel Drouot on 29 October 2004. With help from the district's authorities, the university library of Angers managed to preempt almost the whole of the estate, meaning 22 manuscripts and about 9000 letters which were made available to the research community, as the author wished.

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