(photo by Louis Monier)
A key poet of Parisian modernism, Philippe Soupault (1897-1990) served in the French army during WWI and subsequently joined the antirationalist Dada movement under the leadership of Tristan Tzara. With friends André Breton and Louis Aragon, Soupault co-founded the Dada journal Littérature. In 1919, Soupault collaborated with Breton on the automatic text Les Champs magnétiques, widely considered the foundation of the surrealist movement. He would remain with the movement until 1929, resigning over its increasing politicization. In the years that followed, he wrote novels and journalism, and directed Radio Tunis in Tunisia, where he was imprisoned by the Vichy government during WWII. After the war, he resumed his journalistic activities and also worked for UNESCO. In 1972 he was awarded the Grand Prix de Poésie by the French Academy and he lived long enough the assist with the first complete translation of Breton and his Magnetic Fields in 1985.