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Max Jacob

French, 1876 - 1944

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Cubist poet who came to Paris from Quimper (Brittany) and lived for many years - with little to live upon - among writers and artists. He was converted, dramatically, from Judaism to Roman Catholicism towards 1914, and after 1921 he settled, with long absences in Paris or in foreign countries, at Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire in the shadow of the famous old Benedictine abbey. Writing, and the fervent practice of religion, occupied his time. During World War II the Germans put him in the concentration camp at Drancy, where he died.

His works include: Le Cornet à dés (1917), prose poems, partly autobiographical, written between 1904 and 1918. His poetry was usually racy, punning, conversational, and ironic, shying determinedly away from deep emotion. Some of his short poems mingle the everyday and the macabre in authentic ballad fashion, e.g. "Pour demain soir" in Rivage (1931); and he also wrote some delightful children's tales and verses. (extrapolated from The Oxford Companion to French Literature, Oxford, 1986, 362-363)

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