Author bio

Blaise Cendrars

Blaise Cendrars - book author

Frédéric Louis Sauser, better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss novelist and poet naturalized French in 1916. He was a writer of considerable influence in the modernist movement.

His father, an inventor-businessman, was Swiss, his mother Scottish. He spent his childhood in Alexandria, Naples, Brindisi, Neuchâtel, and numerous other places, while accompanying his father, who endlessly pursued business schemes, none successfully.
At the age of fifteen, Cendrars left home to travel in Russia, Persia, China while working as a jewel merchant; several years later, he wrote about this in his poem, Transiberien. He was in Paris before 1910, where he got in touch with several names of Paris' bélle époque: Guillaume Apollinaire, Modigliani, Marc Chagall and many more. Cendrars then traveled to America, where he wrote his first long poem Pâques à New-York. The next year appeared The Transsibérien.

When he came back to France, I World War was started and he joined the French Foreign Legion. He was sent to the front line in the Somme where from mid-December 1914 until February 1915. During the attacks in Champagne in September 1915 that Cendrars lost his right arm. He described this war experience in the books La Main coupée.

After the war he returned to Paris, becaming an important part of the artistic community in Montparnasse. There, among others, used to meet with other writers such as Henry Miller, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway.

During the 1920's he published two long novels, Moravagine and Les Confessions de Dan Yack. Into the 1930’s published a number of “novelized” biographies or volumes of extravagant reporting, such as L’Or, based on the life of John August Sutter, and Rhum, “reportage romance” dealing with the life and trials of Jean Galmont, a misfired Cecil Rhodes of Guiana.

La Belle Epoque was the great age of discovery in arts and letters. Cendrars, very much of the epoch, was sketched by Caruso, painted by Léon Bakst, by Léger, by Modigliani, by Chagall; and in his turn helped discover Negro art, jazz, and the modern music of Les Six. His home base was always Paris, for several years in the Rue de Savoie, later, for many years, in the Avenue Montaigne, and in the country, his little house at Tremblay-sur Mauldre (Seine-et-Oise), though he continued to travel extensively. He worked for a short while in Hollywood in 1936, at the time of the filming of Sutter’s Gold. From 1924 to 1936, went so constantly to South America. This life globertrottering life was pictured in his book Bourlinguer, published in 1948.
Another remarkable works apparead in the 40s were L’Homme Foudroyé (1945), La Main Coupée (1946), Le Lotissement du Ciel (1949), that constitute his best and most important work. His last major work was published in 1957, entitled Trop, C’est Trop.




Blaise Cendrars is the author of books: Moravagine, Gold: Being the Marvelous History of General John Augustus Sutter, Complete Poems, Dan Yack, To the End of the World, Bourlinguer, The Astonished Man, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, La Main coupée, Rhum: l'aventure de Jean Galmot

Author books

At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Blaise Cendrars's Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch—except that it's a lot more entertaining to read. Heir to an immense aristocratic fortune, mental and physical mutant Moravagine is a monster, a man in pursuit of a theorem that will justify his every desire. Released from a hospital for the criminally insane by his starstruck psychiatrist (the narrator of the book), who foresees a companionship in crime that will also be an unprecedented scientific collaboration, Moravagine travels from Moscow to San Antonio to deepest Amazonia, engaged in schemes and scams as, among other things, terrorist, speculator, gold prospector, and pilot. He also enjoys a busy sideline in rape and murder. At last, the two friends return to Europe—just in time for World War I, when "the whole world was doing a Moravagine."

This new edition of Cendrars's underground classic is the first in English to include the author's afterword, "How I Wrote Moravagine."
Blaise Cendrars was a pioneer of modernist literature. The full range of his poetry—from classical rhymed alexandrines to "cubist" modernism, and from feverish, even visionary, depression to airy good humor—offers a challenge no translator has accepted until now.

Here, for the first time in English translation, is the complete poetry of a legendary twentieth-century French writer. Cendrars, born Frederick Louis Sauser in 1887, invented his life as well as his art. His adventures took him to Russia during the revolution of 1905 (where he traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railway), to New York in 1911, to the trenches of World War I (where he lost his right arm), to Brazil in the 1920s, to Hollywood in the 1930s, and back and forth across Europe.

With Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob he was a pioneer of modernist literature, working alongside artist friends such as Chagall, Delaunay, Modigliani, and Léger, composers Eric Satie and Darius Milhaud, and filmmaker Abel Gance. The range of Cendrars's poetry—from classical rhymed alexandrines to "cubist" modernism, and from feverish, even visionary, depression to airy good humor—offers a challenge no translator has accepted until now.
Centering on eccentric English millionaire shipowner, notorious hell-raiser, and the envy of all St Petersburg, Dan Yack, this strange travel yarn begins with the protagonist finding out that he is no longer wanted by his lover, Hedwiga. Rejection letter in hand, he eventually wanders into a nightclub to impulsively invite a handful of artists to accompany him on a world voyage via the Antarctic. As their journey progresses, the weather worsens and they enter pack-ice. Impatient, Dan orders the crew to land him and his three companions while they wait for a clear passage. They have enough provisions for a long, dark polar winter, but things do not run smoothly. The musician destroys their watches, the poet drifts off into serious daydreams, and the sculptor starts making statues of Dan Yack in ice. And Dan himself is worried—about time, about breaking his monocle, and about having no-one to love. But when the sun finally returns after the polar winter, no one could predict the surreal disaster that is about to unfold—a scenario involving a plum pudding, whales, women, and World War I.
Blaise Cendrars’ last novel is an original and often very funny portrayal of the Parisian criminal underworld of the late 1940s that crackles with the fires of an abundant imagination. Yet To the End of the World is not total invention as, like all Cendrars’ works, it has some basis in real life. The narrative races between a Foreign Legion barracks in North Africa and the theaters, cafes, dosshouses, and police headquarters of postwar Paris. The central character in this roman à clef is Thérèse, a septuagenarian actress who was once the rival of Sarah Berhardt herself. Her passionate affair with a young deserter from the Foreign Legion (in which Cendrars himself served) is interrupted by the murder of a barman and the impact this event has on all their lives. With its bold and colorful supporting cast—a subterranean gallery of ex-legionnaires, theater types, black marketeers, dubious aristocrats, sexual adventurers, and freaks—entwined with numerous subplots and minor themes, To the End of the World amounts to a grandly picaresque adventure. When it appeared in France in 1956, it offered a ready antedote to the sense of negativity and existential futility that pervaded many novels of the era.
Rij était une pouffiasse, une femme-tonneau qui devait peser dans les 110, les 120 kilos. Je n'ai jamais vu un tel monument de chairs croulantes, débordantes. Elle passait sa journée et sa nuitée dans un fauteuil capitonné, fabriqué spécialement pour elle et qu'elle ne cessait d'ornementer, d'enrubanner, lui tressant des faveurs, des nouds, des lacets d'or et d'argent... Bourlinguer. Si Blaise Cendrars n'a pas inventé ce terme de marine, il lui a donné ses lettres de noblesse.
Onze chapitres aux noms de ports pour chanter le départ et l'ouverture aux autres, de l'enfance napolitaine aux quais de la Seine. Onze chapitres pour tresser récits, aventures et lectures, de la mort tragique d'Elena à une rixe inoubliable, en passant par le bombardement de Hambourg et les tribulations d'une caravane dans les Andes.
The extraordinary and much-requested first volume of Cendrars' autobiography, this account chronicles the author's exploits in the Foreign Legion—including the loss of his arm—before the narrative sets off across continents. From Africa to South America, Cendrars encounters everyone from Gallic gipsies to Piquita, the Mexican millionairess. And to all his encounters he brings the vitality, savage humor, and vivid observation that characterize his dazzling writing.
This is the first full-colour, full-size (79 by 15 inches) facsimile of the original 1913 collaboration between the poet Blaise Cendrars and the artist Sonia Delaunay that came to define the modern artist's book and stands as one of the most beautiful books ever created. Made after an original copy in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, the replica makes a modernist icon available to collectors, teachers, and others with an interest in poetry, art, and book making.Blaise Cendrars' narrative about his life-changing journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway is a poem of memory and movement. Sonia Delaunay's designs create a parallel path as the reader slips down the palette while swimming through a river of words. Curator Timothy Young provides a new English translation accompanied by notes.
"- Comment, vous ne savez pas ? Asseyez-vous...
Ce n'était pas encore l'heure du thé. Nous étions seuls dans la boutique. Et tout en me faisant goûter des bouchées au chocolat, grignoter des petits fours et déguster un verre de xérès, la nouvelle confiseuse, qui était veuve de guerre, me raconta avec beaucoup, beaucoup de détails, qui avaient tous trait à sa propre situation, comment Claire s'était pendue dans son fournil le jour où un message officiel d'Angleterre lui avait appris la mort atroce de son frère..."

" Salut cher Blaise Cendrars ! tu es musicien. Salut ! Et gloire à toi ! Autant que des autres, nous avons besoin des poètes de la nuit et de la désolation. Autant que de diatribes au vitriol, nous avons besoin de mots réconfortants - et tu nous les apportes ! " (Henry Miller)

La main coupée est un monument aux morts de la Grande Guerre, comme ceux sur lesquels on a inscrit, année par année, les noms des disparus, morts identifiés mais morts obscurs, sans gloire. Blaise Cendrars a prélevé dans sa mémoire les bribes de la vie et de la mort de ses compagnons de combat, des hommes ordinaires, tragiques ou cocasses, échappant à toute vision héroïque ou édifiante. Lorsqu'elle paraît en 1946, La main coupée est plus qu'un témoignage retardé, c'est une réparation. Réparation parce qu'elle est un mémorial contre l'oubli, réparation aussi pour son auteur qui, dans cet ouvrage tardif, s'autorise enfin, librement, à parler longuement de la guerre, de sa guerre, comme il ne l'avait jamais fait, comme personne ne l'avait jamais fait.
Qui était jean Galmot? « Un personnage mince, félin, un peu voûté, sobre de parole et d'allure », qui ressemble à Don Quichotte, un Don Quichotte brasseur d'affaires et planteur. Les hasards de l'existence l'avaient conduit à vingt ans en Guyane. Il y retourne pour bâtir non seulement sa fortune mais aussi la prospérité des petites gens de là-bas. Les grands féodaux de l'industrie s'inquiètent du succès de ce franc-tireur, député intègre et fervent soutien des libertés guyanaises. Il devient l'homme à abattre. Alors éclatent l'affaire des rhums, puis le scandale des Banques de Province, avec en filigrane la ruine et la prison.
L'auteur de Bourlinguer, l'Or, Moravagine, met toute sa fougue de poète et de grand reporter à évoquer la vie courageuse de cet homme seul. aux prises avec les requins de la finance dans les effervescentes années 1920.