French and Francophone Language and Literature | Modern Languages | Modern Literature
Published in Romance Notes, Volume 40, Issue 2, January 1, 2000, pages 167-175.
This article has been peer reviewed.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Brian Kennelly was affiliated with Webster University. Currently, April 2008, he is Chair and Associate Professor of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.
At the relatively early age of 38, the French poet Olivier Larronde died of an epileptic fit in October 1965. At that time, he had only published two poetic collections, Les Barricades mystérieuses (in 1946) and Rien voilà l'ordre (in 1959), with his third collection, L'Arbre à lettres, only appearing in print in 1966. Despite his limited literary output, Larronde had been considered by Paul Guth in September 1959 as "[u]n des sommets de la poésie Française depuis la guerre" ("Olivier Larronde poète" 114) and was hailed one month after his death by Jean Cau as "l'archange poète de l'après-guerre" ("Olivier Larronde" 72). Larronde's reputation as a great poet grew when he was honored posthumously as the first recipient the following month of France's first Prix de Littérature. And yet his works still remain largely unstudied by critics. The Modem Language Association Bibliography database, for example, does not list a single study on any of them. Were one, some three decades after Larronde's death, to rephrase in the past tense the question posed rhetorically by Bernard Pivot shortly after Larronde was awarded the literary prize, "[l]e prix [de] Littérature Ie sauvera-t-il du silence auquel il semblait condamné?" ("Larronde des vivants" 161), one would – given the test of time and with the confidence bolstered by it – have to answer in the negative.