Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara (April 16, 1896 - December 25, 1963) is the pseudonym of Sami Rosenstock, a Romanian-born French poet and essayist known mainly as a founder of Dada, a nihilistic revolutionary movement in the arts.

He was born in Moinesti, Romania.

The Dadaist movement originated in Zürich during World War I; Tzara wrote the first Dada texts - La Première Aventure céleste de Monsieur Antipyrine (1916; "The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine") and Vingt-cinq poèmes (1918; "Twenty-Five Poems") - and the movement's manifestos, Sept manifestes Dada (1924; "Seven Dada Manifestos"). In Paris he engaged in tumultuous activities with André Breton, Philippe Soupault, and Louis Aragon to shock the public and to disintegrate the structures of language.

In late 1929, weary of nihilism and destruction, he joined his friends in the more constructive activities of Surrealism. He devoted much of his time to the reconciliation of Surrealism and Marxism and joined the French Resistance movement during World War II and the Communist Party in 1947, when he became a French citizen. He left the Party in 1956, in protest against the Soviet quelling of the revolt in Hungary. His political commitments brought him closer to his fellow human beings, and he gradually matured into a lyrical poet. His poems revealed the anguish of his soul, caught between revolt and wonderment at the daily tragedy of the human condition. His mature works started with L'Homme approximatif (1931; "The Approximate Man") and continued with Parler seul (1950; "Speaking Alone") and La Face intérieure (1953; "The Inner Face"). In these, the anarchically scrambled words of Dada were replaced with a difficult but humanized language.

He died in Paris and was interred there in the Cimetière de Montparnasse.

see also cut-up technique


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