Valéry, Paul (1871–1945) By Joseph, Rima
Paul Valéry is the author of an oeuvre that comprises several genres and shows him to have been a polyvalent thinker. Celebrated for his poetry, he is an innovator in imagery and the lyrical subject as in his adaptations of classical form. Introduced into the milieu of symbolist authors at the age of twenty, he left eye-witness accounts of the development of Symbolism and insightful analyses of its significance in language arts. His essays and lectures show him to be a critic of historical and philosophical discourses and a forerunner in modern literary theory as he moves its object from a local evaluation to a theory of literary production. An interlocutor of many preeminent scientists of his time, he collaborated alongside them on cultural commissions. Although he always objected to being labeled a philosopher, aesthetic invention, the phenomenology of thought and the functions of language are among his subjects of predilection in his poems, essays, dialogues, drama, and notebooks.