Max Jacob: A Life in Arts and Letters

Rosanna Warren. Norton, $45 (736p) ISBN 978-0-393-07885-5
Poet, critic, and translator Warren (Fables of the Self) brings French writer and artist Jacob (1876–1944) to life in this exhaustive biography. Drawing on over three decades of archival research, she carefully traces Jacob’s journey, from his provincial childhood, to his student days in Paris, though his Zelig-like path through the French avant-garde. Jacob met Picasso at the latter’s first Paris show in 1901, and by 1903 the two were living in a converted Montmartre piano factory that became a gathering place for artists and the incubator for Cubism. While assisting friends, including Apollinaire, Cocteau, and Satie, with their creative efforts, Jacob also produced his own celebrated paintings, poetry, and novels. These were profoundly influenced by the vision of Christ he experienced in 1909, which inspired his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism in 1915 and a newly mystical aesthetic. Jacob continued to expand his creative vision and promote fellow artists up until near his tragic death; arrested by the Gestapo, he died of pneumonia in a concentration camp outside Paris in 1944. Warren paints Jacob’s life and times in vibrant colors, providing expansive views into this too-little-known writer who exerted a large force in creating modern French literature and art. Agent: Kathleen Anderson, Anderson Literary Management. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/22/2020
Release date: 10/20/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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