The Nobel Prize in Literature 1985
Born: 10 October 1913, Tananarive (now Antananarivo), Madagascar
Died: 6 July 2005, Paris, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Prize motivation: “who in his novel combines the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition”
Prize share: 1/1
Claude Simon was born in Antananarivo, Madagascar. His father was killed in World War I, and Simon was raised by his mother in Perpignan, France. After studies in Paris and Oxford, Simon took painting lessons and traveled around Europe. Simon’s literary production reflects experiences from his travels and during World War II. He was captured at the Battle of Meuse in 1940 but managed to escape and then became involved in the resistance movement. Simon was one of the foremost interpreters of the modernist current in French literature.
Claude Simon’s debut came in 1946 with the novel Le Tricheur (The Cheat). His big breakthrough had to wait until 1960, with the novel La Route des Flandres (The Road to Flanders), in which he describes his experiences during World War II. Simon represented “le nouveau roman” (the new novel), a literary style that disregards form elements such as linear narrative, action and dialogue. His work is based instead on narrative principles used in film, with zooming in and out and a free relationship to time. Simon’s last published novel was Le Jardin des Plantes (1997) (The Jardin des Plantes).