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J. M. G. Le Clézio

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (French: [ʒɑ̃ maʁi ɡystav lə klezjo]; 13 April 1940), usually identified as J. M. G. Le Clézio, is a French writer and professor. The author of over forty works, he was awarded the 1963 Prix Renaudot for his novel Le Procès-Verbal and the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature for his life's work, as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization".


Le Clézio's mother was born in the French Riviera city of Nice, his father on the island of Mauritius (which was a British possession, but his father was ethnically Breton). Both his father's and his mother's ancestors were originally from Morbihan, on the south coast of Brittany. His paternal ancestor François Alexis Le Clézio fled France in 1798 and settled with his wife and daughter on Mauritius, which was then a French colony but would soon pass into British hands. The colonists were allowed to maintain their customs and use of the French language. Le Clézio has never lived in Mauritius for more than a few months at a time, but he has stated that he regards himself both as a Frenchman and a Mauritian. He has dual French and Mauritian citizenship (Mauritius gained independence in 1968) and calls Mauritius his "little fatherland".

Le Clézio was born in Nice, his mother's native city, during World War II when his father was serving in the British Army in Nigeria. He was raised in Roquebillière, a small village near Nice until 1948 when he, his mother, and his brother boarded a ship to join his father in Nigeria. His 1991 novel Onitsha is partly autobiographical. In a 2004 essay, he reminisced about his childhood in Nigeria and his relationship with his parents.

After studying at the University of Bristol in England from 1958 to 1959, he finished his undergraduate degree at Nice's Institut d'études littéraires. In 1964 Le Clézio earned a master's degree from the University of Provence with a thesis on Henri Michaux.

After several years spent in London and Bristol, he moved to the United States to work as a teacher. During 1967 he served as an aid worker as part of his national service in Thailand, but was quickly expelled from the country for protesting against child prostitution and sent to Mexico to finish his national service. From 1970 to 1974, he lived with the Embera-Wounaan tribe in Panama. He has been married since 1975 to Jémia, who is Moroccan, and has three daughters (one by his first marriage). Since the 1990s they have divided their residence between Albuquerque, Mauritius, and Nice.

In 1983 he wrote a doctoral thesis on colonial Mexican history for the University of Perpignan, on the conquest of the Purépecha people who inhabit the present day state of Michoacán. It was serialized in a French magazine and published in Spanish translation in 1985.

He has taught at a number of universities around the world. A frequent visitor to South Korea, he taught French language and literature at Ewha Womans University in Seoul during the 2007 academic year.

Literary career

Le Clézio began writing at the age of seven; his first work was a book about the sea. He achieved success at the age of 23, when his first novel, Le Procès-Verbal (The Interrogation), was the Prix Renaudot and was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt. Since then he has published more than thirty-six books, including short stories, novels, essays, two translations on the subject of Native American mythology, and several children's books.

From 1963 to 1975, Le Clézio explored themes such as insanity, language, nature and writing. He devoted himself to formal experimentation in the wake of such contemporaries as Georges Perec or Michel Butor. His persona was that of an innovator and a rebel, for which he was praised by Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.

During the late 1970s, Le Clézio's style changed drastically; he abandoned experimentation, and the mood of his novels became less tormented as he used themes like childhood, adolescence, and traveling, which attracted a broader audience. In 1980, Le Clézio was the first winner of the newly created Grand Prix Paul Morand, awarded by the Académie Française, for his novel Désert. In 1994, a survey conducted by the French literary magazine Lire showed that 13 percent of the readers considered him to be the greatest living French language writer.

Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2008 went to Le Clézio for works characterized by the Swedish Academy as being "poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy" and for being focused on the environment, especially the desert. The Swedish Academy, in announcing the award, called Le Clézio an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." Le Clézio used his Nobel prize acceptance lecture to attack the subject of information poverty. The title of his lecture was Dans la forêt des paradoxes ("In the forest of paradoxes"), a title he attributed to Stig Dagerman.

Gao Xingjian, a Chinese émigré, was the previous French citizen to receive the prize (for 2000); Le Clézio was the first French-language writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature since Claude Simon for 1985, and the fourteenth since Sully Prudhomme, laureate of the first prize of 1901.


He is a staunch defender of Mama Rosa, director of a Mexican shelter raided by the police in July 2014 when children were found eating rotten food and kept against the will of their parents. He wrote an article in Le Monde arguing that she is close to sanctity.

Awards and honors



  • He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur on 25 October 1991 and was promoted to Officier (Officer) in 2009
  • In 1996, he was made Officier (Officer) of the Ordre national du Mérite.
  • Lycée Français J. M. G. Le Clézio in Port Vila, Vanuatu is named after him.



Further reading

Critical works
  • Jennifer R. Waelti-Walters, J.M.G. Le Clézio, Boston, Twayne, " Twayne's World Authors Series " 426, 1977.
  • Jennifer R. Waelti-Walters, Icare ou l'évasion impossible, éditions Naaman, Sherbrooke, Canada, 1981.
  • Bruno Thibault, Sophie Jollin-Bertocchi, J.M.G. Le Clézio: Intertextualité et interculturalité, Nantes, Editions du Temps, 2004.
  • Bruno Thibault, Bénédicte Mauguière, J.M.G. Le Clézio, la francophonie et la question coloniale, Nouvelles Etudes Francophones, numéro 20, 2005.
  • Keith Moser, "Privileged moments" in the novels and short stories of J.M.G. Le Clézio, Edwin Mellen Press, 2008.
  • Bruno Thibault, Claude Cavallero (eds), Contes, nouvelles & Romances, Les Cahiers Le Clézio, vol. 2, Paris, 2009.
  • Bruno Thibault, J.M.G. Le Clézio et la métaphore exotique, Amsterdam/New York, Rodopi, 2009.
  • Isabelle Roussel-Gillet, J.M.G. Le Clézio, écrivain de l'incertitude, Ellipses, 2011.
  • Bruno Thibault, Isabelle Roussel-Gillet (eds), Migrations et métissages, Les Cahiers Le Clézio, vol. 3–4, 2011.
  • Keith Moser, JMG Le Clézio, A Concerned Citizen of the Global Village, Lexington Books, 2012.
  • Bruno Thibault, Keith Moser, J.M.G. Le Clézio dans la forêt des paradoxes, Paris, Editions de l'Harmattan, 2012.

External links

  • Media related to Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to J. M. G. Le Clézio at Wikiquote
  • Great interview with J. M. G. Le Clezio and all linked resources on the video encyclopedia SAM Network
  • Works by or about J. M. G. Le Clézio in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Petri Liukkonen. "J. M. G. Le Clézio". Books and Writers
  • Interview with Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, in Label France No. 45 (English)
  • J.M.G Le Clézio —Photos by Mathieu Bourgois.
  • J.M.G. Le Clézio, about his Breton origins.
  • "Nobel Goes Global With Literary Prize", by Bob Thompson, Washington Post, 10 October 2008
  • "A Nobel Undertaking: Getting to Know Le Clézio ", by Richard Woodward, Wall Street Journal, 30 October 2008
  • "J. M. G. Le Clézio, Nobel laureate": a collection of pieces on Clézio, from TLS, 9 October 2008
  • A writing life in pictures: Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Le Clézio, The Guardian, 9 October 2008
  • Artelittera Many chapters of studies about Le Clezio to upload
  • J.M.G. Le Clézio: A French NovelistWins 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature
  • David R. Godine, Publisher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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