Authors: Jean Giraudoux

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French novelist and playwright

Author Works


Siegfried, pr., pb. 1928 (adaptation of his novel Siegfried et le Limousin; English translation, 1930)

Amphitryon 38, pr., pb. 1929 (English translation, 1938)

Judith, pr., pb. 1931 (English translation, 1955)

Intermezzo, pr., pb. 1933 (The Enchanted, 1950)

Tessa, pr., pb. 1934 (adaptation of Margaret Kennedy’s The Constant Nymph)

La Guerre de Troie n’aura pas lieu, pr., pb. 1935 (Tiger at the Gates, 1955)

Un Supplément au voyage de Cook, pr. 1935 (adaptation of Denis Diderot’s Supplément au voyage de Bougainville; The Virtuous Island, 1956)

Électre, pr., pb. 1937 (Electra, 1952)

L’Impromptu de Paris, pr., pb. 1937 (The Impromptu of Paris, 1938)

La Cantique des cantiques, pr., pb. 1938 (Song of Songs, 1961)

Ondine, pr., pb. 1939 (English translation, 1954)

L’Apollon de Bellac, pr. 1942 (The Apollo of Bellac, 1954)

Sodome et Gomorrhe, pr., pb. 1943 (Sodom and Gomorrah, 1961)

Pour Lucrèce, wr. 1944, pr., pb. 1953 (Duel of Angels, 1958)

La Folle de Chaillot, pr., pb. 1945 (The Madwoman of Chaillot, 1947)

Théâtre complet, pb. 1945-1953 (16 volumes)

Four Plays, pb. 1958

Plays, pb. 1963, 1967 (2 volumes)

Three Plays, pb. 1964

Long Fiction:

Provinciales, 1909 (novellas)

L’École des indifférents, 1910 (novellas)

Simon le pathétique, 1918

Suzanne et le Pacifique, 1921 (Suzanne and the Pacific, 1923)

Siegfried et le Limousin, 1922 (My Friend from Limousin, 1923)

Juliette au pays des hommes, 1924

Bella, 1926 (English translation, 1927)

Eglantine, 1927


Lectures pour une ombre, 1917 (Campaigns and Intervals, 1918)

Amica America, 1919

Adorable Clio, 1920

Pleines Pouvoirs, 1939


Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux (zhee-roh-doo) grew up in the Haute Vienne and remained a “provincial” throughout his cosmopolitan life. Educated primarily at the École Normale Superieure in Paris, he also studied in Munich, where he developed his lifelong interest in German culture and the often troubled relationship between Germany and France. After failing German in the agregation exams, he spent a year as an exchange student at Harvard University before returning to Paris to work as a journalist for Le Matin and the Paris-Journal. In 1910 he was attached to the press bureau of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, thus beginning a career of diplomatic activity at the Quai d’Orsay.{$I[AN]9810000593}{$I[A]Giraudoux, Jean}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Giraudoux, Jean}{$I[tim]1882;Giraudoux, Jean}

In World War I Giraudoux served as a sergeant and, later, sublieutenant; he was badly wounded, and was awarded the Legion of Honor. In 1916 he went to Portugal as a military instructor and later to America in the same capacity. In 1918 he resumed his diplomatic career, but when the publication of Bella offended his superiors he gratefully accepted an appointment to inspect allied war damage.

Influenced strongly by writers André Gide and Marcel Proust, Giraudoux nevertheless developed a unique literary style that handles languages in ways that are comparable to the way Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro handled paint. His impressionistic style appears with his very first book, Provinciales, which was followed by an account of his American experience, L’École des indifférents, and a report of his adventures in World War I, Campaigns and Intervals. His most important works are the novelsSimon le pathétique, which is partly autobiographical; Suzanne and the Pacific; My Friend from Limousin, which concerns an amnesiac French prisoner of war who becomes a political power in Germany; and Bella, which deals with Parisian political life. Two important nonfiction works are the piquant farewell to arms Adorable Clio and Pleines Pouvoirs, a critique of French foreign affairs and internal politics. Giraudoux achieved his greatest success as a dramatist. His plays Amphitryon 38, The Enchanted, and Tiger at the Gates, in which Louis Jouvet starred, were especially successful, as was the Broadway production of The Madwoman of Chaillot.

Giraudoux was politically active throughout his life, serving as socialist politician Edouard Daladier’s propaganda director until Daladier was ousted. Giraudoux briefly worked for the Vichy government as curator of historical monuments, but he soon resigned in protest of that government’s policies. He died in occupied Paris in 1944.

BibliographyBody, Jacques. Jean Giraudoux: The Legend and the Secret. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1991. A biography of Giraudoux that covers his life and works. Bibliography and index.Buck, Arthur C. Jean Giraudoux and Oriental Thought: A Study of Affinities. New York: Peter Lang, 1984. This study examines the philosophy of Giraudoux, including his attitudes toward war, and compares his ideas with those of Asian philosophy. Bibliography and index.Cohen, Robert. Giraudoux: Three Faces of Destiny. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. A thematic study of the theater of Giraudoux in which twelve major plays are divided into three tetralogies or “faces”–politics, fantasy, and sexuality. Contains a bibliography.Inskip, Donald. Jean Giraudoux: The Making of a Dramatist. London: Oxford University Press, 1958. Attempts to evaluate Giraudoux’s accomplishments as a playwright in the larger context of the literature of the 1920’s and 1930’s; thus, Inskip makes connections to Giraudoux’s prose. Full of theatrical anecdotes that illuminate the relationship between Giraudoux and Jouvet.Lemaître, Georges. Jean Giraudoux: The Writer and His Work. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1971. Sees Giraudoux as idealist, fatalist, and moralist weighted by a growing sense of despair as Europe moved inexorably toward war. Impressively documented but marred by a rhetorical Gallic style that relies heavily on abstractions.Le Sage, Laurent. Jean Giraudoux: His Life and Works. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1959. This wide-ranging and incisive study by a scholar who compiled an exhaustive bibliography of Giraudoux’s works is concerned with the various forms of the plays and with the basic procedures of Giraudoux’s art. Carefully explores the use of images and articulates Giraudoux’s virtuosity as innovator and tragic poet.Mankin, Paul A. Precious Irony: The Theatre of Jean Giraudoux. The Hague: Mouton, 1971. Giraudoux’s unpretentious drama of sight and sound is regarded as a willful distortion of realistic images. Compares Giraudoux to mannerist painters and praises his humanism as a realization of human limitations.Nagel, Susan. The Influence of the Novels of Jean Giraudoux on the Hispanic Vanguard Novels of the 1920’s-1930’s. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1991. A look at how Giraudoux’s work influenced Hispanic writers in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Bibliography and index.Powell, Brenda J. The Metaphysical Quality of the Tragic: A Study of Sophocles, Giraudoux, and Sartre. New York: Peter Lang, 1990. A comparison of Giraudoux’s Electra with works of Sophocles and Jean-Paul Sartre. Bibliography.Raymond, Agnes G. Jean Giraudoux: The Theatre of Victory and Defeat. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1966. Based on an earlier study, this work looks closely at the hidden agenda in the Siegfried writings (1922-1934) and at the theater during the Occupation.Reilly, John H. Jean Giraudoux. Boston: Twayne, 1978. Biographically comprehensive but oversimplified. Giraudoux’s characters seem one-dimensional; underlines the number of alienated heroes and heroines.Tulane Drama Review 3, no. 4 (May, 1959). A special issue devoted to Giraudoux with contributions from distinguished critics who study such things as Giraudoux’s connection to classical tragedy, his comic liveliness and Symbolist imagination, and theatrical improvisation. Includes Jean Anouilh’s whimsical “Letter to Giraudoux” as a literary frontispiece and translations of two one-act plays.Valencey, Maurice. “Giraudoux.” The End of the World: An Introduction to Contemporary Drama. London: Oxford University Press, 1980. In this one-hundred-page essay, Valencey discusses the five plays that he adapted between 1954 and 1959 when nine of Giraudoux’s plays were produced on Broadway. He emphasizes the architecture of the plays and offers perceptive plot analyses.
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