Paul Claudel Society, Paul Claudel Papers (North America)

The Paul Claudel Society includes the scholars, academics and students who are interested in Paul and Camille Claudel on the North American continent. It was founded in 1968 by Harold Waters and Calvin Claudel [no relation] in New York, and was associated from its beginnings with a publication: first entitled Claudel Newsletter, the journal became Claudel Studies in 1972 and was edited by Father Moses Nagy. The Society meets every year along with the annual meeting of the North American Modern Language Association, in January, in different cities in the United States and Canada. The meeting in 2019 took place in Chicago and was chaired by Glenn Fetzer. The officers of the Society are Glenn Fetzer, President; Madhuri Mukherjee and Jean Christophe Ippolito, Vice Presidents; and Eric Touya de Marenne, secretary-treasurer. The Society held a special colloquium in October of 2005 at York University, Toronto, presided by Sergio Villani, to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of Paul Claudel’s death.

The journal Paul Claudel Papers took over the role of Claudel Studies and was published at York University by Sergio Villani, editor, and Ann Bugliani and Nina Hellerstein, associate editors, from 2003 to 2012. Its editorial board was composed of the members of the Paul Claudel Society. It published papers presented at the meetings of the Society, as well as contributions by North American and international members.

Claudel’s reception in England and the United States

English and American criticism began to show interest in Claudel’s theater and poetry starting around 1910. In both countries, Claudel’s works have always inspired enthusiasm among a certain number of perceptive readers, but they have also encountered obstacles in their diffusion and appreciation because of the difficult nature of the texts and the complexity of their religious thought. At the beginning of the century, Claudel’s own interest in the English Catholic authors, Patmore and Chesterton, created links between the poet and the English Catholic milieu, in particular the poet Alice Meynell, who presented and translated several parts of The Hostage. Among the critics and literary figures who greeted Claudel’s works favorably in the press, we find Chesterton himself, John Middleton Murry, Aldous Huxley and Robert Speaight, who translated, staged and acted in several plays. In British universities, Claudel has been studied and appreciated thanks to specialists such as Ernest Beaumont and Gilbert Gadoffre. On the English stage, Claudel productions began with an Exchange staged by Edith Craig, daughter of Ellen Terry and sister of E. Gordon Craig, in 1915. In the following decades, most of Claudel’s plays were produced, generally in English translations; among these, Break of Noon had the greatest success. However, critics appear to be divided and often put off by the difficulties of Claudel’s metaphysics. During the summer of 2004, the theatre festival of Edinburgh included the Olivier Py production of The Satin Slipper, accompanied by that of Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake). Once again, the public was both impressed and bewildered by the complexity of the works.

In the United States, the greatest interest in Claudel’s works has been among intellectual and academic environments, particularly in Catholic schools and universities. Claudel’s second residence in the United States, during the period of his ambassadorship in Washington between 1927 and 1933, gave him the opportunity to create friendships with admirers of his work, in particular with Agnes Meyer, who collaborated with the poet on translations and maintained an important correspondence with him. He also collaborated with Franco-Mexican painter Jean Charlot on an illustrated edition of The Book of Christopher Columbus and an unpublished version of his commentary on the Apocalypse. In the theatrical realm, The Tidings Brought to Mary is by far the most frequently produced work, in many different areas of the country, on Broadway and in Catholic schools, both in English and in French. During the twentieth century, there were also productions of Break of Noon, The Book of Christopher Columbus, and in particular Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the Stake), which was mounted several times with great success in New York, notably by Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia in the role of Joan. One work that is often produced, especially at Easter, is The Stations of the Cross, accompanied by the music of Marcel Dupré. Another important source of productions was the annual meeting of the North American Paul Claudel Society. Among its productions are L’Ours et la Lune (The Bear and the Moon,) in 1973, The Exchange, in 1974, and Break of Noon in 1981. In the intellectual realm, the Society is the most important center of activities and interest in Claudel’s works in North America. It created a Claudel archive at the library of Loyola University of Chicago, and there are also important Claudel documents at the Yale University Library. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, possesses a manuscript of his Five Great Odes. For the last few years, scholars in the United States have been particularly interested in the Oriental, international and global dimensions of Claudel’s works.

 Major English translations of Claudel’s works:

The East I Know (Connaissance de l’Est), tr. Teresa Frances et William Rose Benét, intro. par Pierre Chavannes, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1914, et London: H. Milford, Oxford U.P.
The Tidings Brought to Mary (L’Annonce), tr. Louise Morgan Sill, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1916; repr. London: Chatto & Windus, 1926.
The Hostage (L’Otage), tr. et intro. par Pierre Chavannes, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1917 et London: H. Milford, Oxford U.P.
Tête d’Or, tr. John Strong Newberry, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1919 et London: H. Milford, Oxford U.P.
The City (La Ville), tr. John Strong Newberry, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1920 et London: H. Milford, Oxford U.P.
The Book of Christopher Columbus (Le Livre de Christophe Colomb), tr. Claudel avec l’aide d’Agnès Meyer et un lecteur de la presse Yale, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1930 et London: H. Milford, Oxford U.P. Cette édition a été illustrée par Jean Charlot.
The Satin Slipper (Le Soulier de satin), tr. Rev. Fr. John O’Connor avec la collaboration de l’auteur, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1931 et London: Sheed & Ward, 1931.
Three Plays: The Hostage, Crusts, The Humiliation of the Father (L’Otage, Le Pain dur, Le Père humilié), tr. J. Heard, Boston: John W. Luce, 1944, Branden, 1945.
Poetic Art (Art poétique), tr. Renée Spodheim, NY: Philosophical Library, 1948.
Correspondance Paul Claudel-André Gide, tr. par John Russell, New York: Pantheon, 1952.
(cette traduction fut publié d’abord à Londres (la même année,1952) par Secker & Warburg)
Break of Noon (Partage de midi), et The Tidings Brought to Mary (L’Annonce faite à Marie), tr. & intro. de Wallace Fowlie, Chicago: H. Regnery, 1960.
Five Great Odes (Cinq Grandes Odes), tr. & intro. par Edward Lucie-Smith, London: Rapp & Carrol, 1967 et Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour, 1970.
The Exchange (L’Echange), tr. par Louise Witherell et H. Lawrence Zillmer, in Claudel Studies, Vol. II, No. 2 (1975), pp. 5-43.
Proteus (Protée), tr. par Moses M. Nagy et Michael Gillespie, in Claudel Studies, Vol. V, No. 2 (1978), pp. 51-143.
Knowing the East (Connaissance de l’Est), tr. par James Lawler, Princeton: Princeton U.P., 2004.
A Hundred Movements for a Fan (Cent phrases…), translated with an Introduction by Andrew Harvey and Iain Watson. (Quartet Books, London 1992)
Ways and Crossways (= la plupart des textes repris dans Positions et Propositions II), translated by Father John O’Connor with the collaboration of the author (London, Sheed and Ward 1933)
Three Poems of the War (Trois poëmes de guerre), tr. by Edward J. O’Brien with an Introduction by Pierre Chavannes [avec le texte en français], Yale University Press: New Haven, Oxford University Press:  London, 1919.
Letters to a Doubter (Correspondance  Jacques Rivière – Paul Claudel), tr. by Henry Longan Stuart; Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1927. Réimprimé par ‘Roman Catholic Books.org’, USA, 2005.
The Stations of the Cross (Le Chemin de la Croix), tr. Father John J. Burke, in The Ecclesiatical Review, October 1927, Philadelphia.
Picture Book: 32 Original Lithographs by Jean Charlot. Texts in French and English by Paul Claudel, John Becker, NY, 1933.
Coronal (Corona benignitatis anni Dei), tr. Sister Mary David, [accompagné du texte français], Pantheon Books, NY, 1943.
Lord: Teach us to Pray (Seigneur, apprenez-nous à prier), tr. Ruth Bethell, D. Dobson, London, 1947.
The Eye Listens (L’Œil écoute), tr. Elsie Pell, Philosophical Library, NY [c.1950].
A Poet before the Cross (Un poète regarde la croix), tr. Wallace Fowlie, Henry Regnery Company, Chicago, 1958.
I Believe in God : A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed (Je crois en Dieu), tr. by Helen Weaver, ed. by Agnès du Sarment, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, NY, 1963: Harvill, London, 1965. Réimprimé par Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2002.
–- Letters from my Godfather, Paul Claudel, (Lettres inédites de mon parrain, Paul Claudel), tr. William Howard, the Earl of Wicklow, Clonmore & Reynolds, Dublin, 1964.
Claudel on the Theatre (Mes idées sur le théâtre), tr. Christine Trollope, University of Miami, 1972.


 Pierre Brunel: Claudel et Shakespeare, Armand Colin, 1971.

–Claudel et le satanisme anglo-saxon, Université d’Ottawa, 1975.

–Richard Griffiths : « Claudel et le renouveau catholique anglais », Bulletin de la Société Paul Claudel, no. 226 (2018-3), pp. 45-54.

–(ed): Claudel: A Reappraisal, London, Rapp and Whiting, 1968.

 Nina Hellerstein : « Claudel et Whitman”, Paul Claudel Papers, Vol. II (2004), 105-116.

–« Quelques aspects du rapport entre Claudel et Whitman,” Bulletin de la Société Paul Claudel, no. 173 (mars 2004), 46-50.

– Jacqueline de Labriolle, CLAUDEL and the English-Speaking World: a Critical Bibliography, tr. Roger Little, 173 pp. (Series: Research Bibliographies and Checklists, Grant and Cutler, London 1973).