Chédid (1920 - 2011)
Poet and Exemplary Grandmother
was born in Cairo on the 20th of March 1920. Her paternal grandfather,
Count Khalil de Saab had left Lebanon at the end of the nineteenth
century to settle in Egypt. Her parents, Salim Saab and Alice Khoury
Helou, both originally from Baabda in the southern Metn were separated.
They decided to send Andrée to boarding school at the age
of ten to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart College in Cairo. At the
age of fourteen she left for Europe to continue her secondary schooling
and then returned to Cairo to attend the American University there.
her first poems in English at the age of eighteen under the pseudonym
of A. Lake. She was married in 1942 to a Lebanese doctor, Professor
Louis Chédid. They lived in Lebanon at first but left in
1946 to settle in Paris for good. There, Louis Chédid worked
for the French national centre for scientific research, the CNRS.
They had two children, Michele and Louis.
An article about
the Chedids that appeared in the Nouvel Observateur ran under the
title of “The Chedids: a Golden Family”. The article spoke of the
creative talent of that family: Andrée's writing, her son
Louis' composing and musical interpretation and her grandson Matthieu's
(M) success with the younger Francophile generation as a very popular
singer. Andree Chédid wrote the lyrics for one of his greatest
hits, Je dis aime; her words carried an emotive and crucial message
for the world we live in. A grandson setting his grandmother's poetry
to music: it was just the sort of bridge between generations that
Andrée had wanted to establish.
a deep faith in humanity and much hope, Andrée's work is
an unremitting questioning of the human condition and of how humanity
has evolved through the clashes of civilizations in the Mediterranean
basin. Her work is sensually evocative of the Orient and its flavors
and most of her novels are set in Lebanon. She has also written
extensively of the war that tore her country apart.
Her first two
publications were collections of poetry written in English. Heart
on Holiday was published in 1943 in Cairo and On the Trails of my
Fancy appeared in Beirut in 1945. Her subsequent works were both
written and published in French. Andrée Chédid is
a prominent figure in the contemporary French literary world. The
novelist, playwright, author and poet has received a number of literary
awards including the Prix Goncourt for short stories, the Grand
Prix de la Societé des Gens de Lettres, the Prix Louise Labé,
the Prix Mallarmé and the Prix Goncourt for poetry in 2003.
2009 - Grand
Officier de la Légion d'honneur.
2011 - She died on 6 February 2011 in Paris at the age of 91.
is the author of:
Textes pour une Figure
(poems) (Pré aux Clercs, Paris, 1949)
Textes pour un poème (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1950)
Le Sommeil Délivré (novel), 1952; (republished by
Flammarion, Paris, 1975)
Textes pour le Vivant, (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1953)
Jonathan (novel), (Seuil, Paris, 1955)
Texte pour la Terre Aimée (poems) GLM, Paris, 1955)
Terre et Poésie (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1956)
Terre Regardée (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1960)
Seul le Visage (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1960)
Le Sixième Jour (novel), 1960; (republished by Flammarion,
Paris, 1972 et 1985, brought to the screen by Youssef Chahine 1986)
Lubies (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1962)
Le Survivant (novel), 1963; (republished by Flammarion, Paris, 1982)
Double Pays, (poems), (GLM, Paris, 1965, (Prix Louise Labé,
Contre-chant (poems) (Flammarion, Paris, 1968)
L'autre (novel), (Flammarion, Paris, 1969)
La Cité Fertile (novel), (Flammarion, Paris, 1972)
Visage Premier (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1972)
Fêtes et Lubies (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1973)
Prendre Corps (poems), (G.L.M., Paris, 1973)
Néfertiti et le Rêve d'Akhnaton (novel), (Flammarion,
Fraternité de la Parole (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1975.
(Prix Mallarmé in 1976)
Cérémonial de la Violence (poems), (Flammarion, Paris,
Le Cœur et le Temps (tales), (L'Ecole des Loisirs, Paris, 1976)
Cavernes et Soleils (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1979)
Les Corps et le Temps followed by l'Etroite Peau (short stories),
(Flammarion, Paris, 1979)
Lubies (tales), (L'Ecole des Loisirs, Paris, 1979)
Bérénice d'Egypte (play); Les Nombres (play); Le Montreur
(play), (Flammarion, Paris, 1981)
L'Autre (tales), (Père Castor-Flammarion, Paris, 1981, brought
to the screen by Bernard Giraudeau, 1990)
Le Coeur Suspendu (tales), (Casterman, Paris, 1981)
Les Marches de Sable (novel), (Flammarion, Paris, 1981)
Mon Ami, Mon Frère (tales), (Casterman, Paris, 1982)
Epreuves du Vivant (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1983)
L'Etrange Mariée (tales), (Le Sorbier, Paris, 1983)
Derrière les Visages (tales), (Père Castor-Flammarion,
Grammaire en Fête (tales), (Folle avoine, Paris, 1984)
La Maison sans Racines (novel), (Flammarion, Paris, 1985)
Le Survivant (tales), (Père Castor-Flammarion, Paris, 1987.
Textes pour un Poème (poems) Flammarion, Paris, 1987)
Les Manèges de la Vie (tales), (Flammarion, Paris, 1989)
L'enfant multiple (tales), 1989, (J'ai lu, Paris, 1991)
Poèmes pour un Texte (poems), (Flammarion, Paris, 1991)
A la Vie, à la Mort (novel), (Flammarion, Paris, 1992)
La Femme de Job (novel), (Calmann Levy, 1993)
Echec à la Reine (play) (Flammarion, 1993)
Le Personnage (play) (Flammarion, 1993)
La Femme en Rouge et Autre Nouvelles (novel), (J'ai lu, 1994)
Le Liban (essay), (Seuil)
Guy Levis-Mano (essay), (Poètes d'aujourd'hui, Seghers)
Les Métamorphoses de Batine (tales), (Père Castor,
Par-delà les Mots, (poems) (Flammarion, 1995)
Le Dernier Candidat (play) (Art et Comédie, 1998)
Territoires du Souffle (poems) (Flammarion, 1999)
Le Message (novel) (Flammarion, 2000)
Rythmes (poems) (Gallimard, 2003)
Grammaire en Fête (poems) (Folle Avoine, 2003)
Poursuites (poems) (Alternatives, 2004)
Racines et Liberté (poems) (L'Harmattan, 2004)
Entre Nil et Seine: Entretiens avec Brigitte Kernel (interviews
with Brigitte Kernel, 2005)
Vitesse de la lumière - Instantanés (illustrated volume
by Christian Broutin). A Bibliography by Roger E. Stoddard (Paris:
Librairie Benoît Forgeot, 2006)
A forge burns in my heart.
I am redder than dawn,
Deeper than seaweed,
More distant than gulls,
More hollow than wells.
But I only give birth
To seeds and to shells.
My tongue becomes tangled
I no longer speak white,
Nor utter black,
Nor whisper gray of a wind-worn cliff,
Barely do I glimpse a swallow,
A shadow's brief glimmer,
Or guess at an iris.
Where are the words,
The undying fire,
The final poem?
The source of life?
Where is the distant
That speaks like my soul?
Buried beneath daylight's
Gold and the seasons
Beneath groaning streets
And the ferment of cities
In my grave
And blond laughter
In what bare tomb must I lie
To summon the voice
That speaks like my soul?
In the flowing
In her growing fever
Parting her veils
Cracking out of her shells
Sliding out of her skins
In her volcanoes
In her orchards
Seeking solidity and measure
Clasping her most tender flesh
Straining every fine-honed fiber