Paul ValÃ©ry, French poet, essayist, and critic was born in SÃ¨te, France in 1871. His father, Barthelmy ValÃ©ry, was a customs officer at the sea port of SÃ¨te, and his mother, Fanny Grassi, who was the daughter of an Italian consul and a descended from Venetian nobility.
He was educated in Sette and at the lycÃ©e and University of Montpellier, and obtained his licence in 1892 after studying law there. In this same year, ValÃ©ry fell in love with a young Spanish girl but suffered a personal crisis. It was at this time he discovered the 'revolution of the mind', during a stormy night in Genoa. He turned his back on writing poetry and dedicated himself to gaining 'maximum knowledge and control of his intellect.' The very act of writing, he decided, was one of vanity, and set to free himself at no matter what cost, from those falsehoods: literature and sentiment. During this time he published two prose works. In Introdution de la Methode de Leonard da Vince (1894) he claimed that "all criticism is the cause of the work as in the eyes of the law the criminal is the cause of the crime. Far rather are they both the effects." La Soiree Avec Monsieur Teste (1896) which came to be the first part of his Teste cycle.
The publisher Gaston Gallimard, asked ValÃ©ry to collect and revise the poetry he had written in the 1890s. ValÃ©ry's original plan was to produce a poem of some forty lines, but he finished with one of his major works, La Jeune Pataque, which brought him immediate fame.
His 'mÃ©lodrames' Amphion and SÃ©miramis, found the stage at the Paris Opera in 1931 and 1934. ValÃ©ry was elected to the AcadÃ©mie FranÃ§aise in 1925 and in 1933 he was made administrative head of the Centre Universitaire MÃ©diterranÃ©en at Nice.In 1937 ValÃ©ry was appointed professor of poetry at the CollÃ¨ge de France. In 1939 he wrote the libretto for Germaine Taillefer's Cantate du Narcisse. ValÃ©ry died in Paris on July 20, 1945, and was returned to SÃ¨te for his burial.