Claude Simon was born in 1913 at Tananarive (Madagascar). His parents were French, his father being a career officer who was killed in the first World War. He grew up with his mother and her family in Perpignan in the middle of the wine district of Roussillon. Among his ancestors was a general from the time of the French Revolution.
After secondary school at Collège Stanislas in Paris and brief sojourns at Oxford and Cambridge he took courses in painting at the André Lhote Academy. He then travelled extensively through Spain, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy and Greece. This experience as well as those from the Second World War show up in his literary work. At the beginning of the war Claude Simon took part in the battle of the Meuse (1940) and was taken prisoner. He managed to escape and joined the resistance movement. At the same time he completed his first novel, Le Tricheur (“The Cheat”, published in 1946), which he had started to write before the war.
He lives in Paris and spends part of the year at Salses in the Pyrenees.
In 1961 Claude Simon received the prize of l’Express for “La Route des Flandres” and in 1967 the Médicis prize for “Histoire”. The University of East Anglia made him honorary doctor in 1973.
|Le Tricheur/The Cheat 1945|
|La Corde Raide/The Tightrope 1947|
|Le Sacre du printemps/The Anointment of Spring 1954|
|Le vent. Tentative de restitution d ‘un rétable baroque/The Wind. Attempted Restoration of a Baroque Altarpiece 1957|
|L’Herbe/The Grass 1958|
|La Route des Flandres/The Flanders Road 1960|
|Le Palace/The Palace 1962|
|La Separation/The Separation 1963 (Play adapted from the novel L’Herbe)|
|Femmes/Women. Ill by Joan Miró. – New edition entitled La Chevelure de Bérénice/Berenice’s Hair 1984|
|La Bataille de Pharsale/The Battle of Pharsalus 1969|
|Orion aveugle. Essai/Blind Orion. Essay 1970|
|Les Corps conducteurs/Conducting Bodies 1971|
|Leçon de choses/Lesson in Things 1975|
|Les Géorgiques/The Georgics 1981|
|L’Invitation/The Invitation 1987|
|L’Acacia/The Acacia 1989|
|Le jardin des plantes/The Jardin des Plantes, 1997*|
|Le tramway/The Trolley, 2001*|
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
* Updated by the Laureate, May 2005.
Claude Simon died on July 6, 2005.
Nobel Prizes and laureates
See them all presented here.