Blaise Cendrars
November 30, 2011 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Reading Blaise Cendrars is like stepping into another universe. His fiction is unlike anything else I've ever read. His poetry influenced the mighty Guillaume Apollinaire and helped shape the face of modernism. But it is his mockery of biographical detail and the very notion of literature that fascinates me the most. If, like me, you're not a fan of autobiography, then Blaise Cendrars is the memoirist for you.
posted by Trurl (10 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Henry Miller wrote about Cendrars in My Life in Books - a volume of many buried treasures.
posted by Trurl at 6:56 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is a world of peculiar, decadent French literature that rarely gets mentioned outside very specific circles. Can you do Boris Vian next?
posted by Nomyte at 7:05 PM on November 30, 2011

What self-respecting transgression loving post-punk philosophy major hasn't read Moravagine?

Kidding of course. Is he finally getting discovered by a wider audience (than the above) in this country? Moravagine was a strange intense read with a unique thought provoking perspective on the possible true evolutionary worth of mental illness and pushing the boundaries of freedom if I remember correctly, and one truly horrific mutilation and all. Very much in the tradition of Lautréamont's equally psychopathic Maldoror.

It's amazing France has a whole school of these writers and a tradition of that sort of literature. Also of possible interest might be Octave Mirbeau and the Babe Ruth of the Genre, DeSade and the Lou Gehrig of it, George Bataille.

I think it as pretty gimmicky these days. But I still have a huge soft spot for Bataille. He is my favorite.
posted by Skygazer at 7:33 PM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, I happen to be a transgression loving post-punk philosophy major and I have indeed read Moravagine. Funnily enough, though, I recall more stuff from L'homme foudroyé and La main coupée so I guess those two made more of an impact on my younger self.
posted by blogenstock at 10:17 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I confess to having admired, more than loved, Moravagine, but I've recently been pecking at his poetry, and my God is it good. Raw and rough and beautiful.
posted by Football Bat at 10:18 PM on November 30, 2011

Yet another Metafilter thread that's going to end with me dropping a bill on books I have neither space to store nor time to read.

(... thank you.)
posted by penduluum at 10:21 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

His works from the late forties ("biographical") are like prisms reflecting all the periods of his life and art. His prose is very musical, and the composition itself, as he said, rhapsodic. To me, reading these books was like listening to a profound and dazzling extemporization.
posted by nicolin at 12:41 AM on December 1, 2011

You've been killing it with these posts, Trurl. Cendrars is great.
posted by OmieWise at 4:54 AM on December 1, 2011

The Astonished Man The first of a quartet which formed his memoirs. Henry Miller described him as a man exploding in all directions at once. Here's another review.
posted by adamvasco at 10:40 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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