Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blaise Cendrars, always with Beret

Frédéric-Louis Sauser (September 1, 1887 – January 21, 1961), better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss novelist and poet who became a naturalized French citizen in 1916. He was a writer of considerable influence in the European modernist movement.
In 1904, he left school due to poor performance and began an apprenticeship with a Swiss watchmaker in Russia. While living in St. Petersburg, he began to write, thanks to the encouragement of R.R., a librarian at the National Library of Russia. There he wrote the poem, "La Légende de Novagorode".
In 1907, Sauser returned to Switzerland, where he studied medicine at the University of Berne. During this period, he wrote his first verified poems, Séquences, influenced by Remy de Gourmont's Le Latin mystique. Cendrars was the first exponent of Modernism in European poetry. 
His writing career was interrupted by World War I. When it began, he and the Italian writer Ricciotto Canudo appealed to other foreign artists to join the French army. He joined the French Foreign Legion. He was sent to the front line in the Somme where from mid-December 1914 until February 1915, he was in the line at Frise (La Grenouillère and Bois de la Vache). He described this war experience in the books La Main coupée (The severed hand) and J'ai tué (I have killed). It was during the attacks in Champagne in September 1915 that Cendrars lost his right arm and was discharged from the army.
After the war, Cendrars became involved in the movie industry in Italy, France, and the United States. Needing to generate more income, after 1925 he stopped publishing poetry and concentrated on novels and short stories.
Cendrars continued to be active in the Paris artistic community, encouraging younger artists and writing about them. He stayed in Paris during World War II and the German occupation. In Occupied France, the Gestapo listed Cendrars as a Jewish writer of "French expression," but he was not deported. His youngest son was killed in an accident while escorting American planes in Morocco.
In 1950, Cendrars settled down on the rue Jean-Dolent in Paris, across from the La Santé Prison. There he collaborated frequently with Radiodiffusion Française. He finally published again in 1956. The novel, Emmène-moi au bout du monde !…, was his last work before he suffered a stroke in 1957. 
He died in 1961.

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