Max Jacob, central figure of early 20th-century Parisian bohemia along with Picasso and Apollinaire, was active at the emergence of Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada and Surrealism. But in spite of his close connections with modernism — epitomized by hisseminal book of prose poems Le Cornet à dés (1916) — Jacob remains a marginal figure. His Breton-Jewish ‘otherness’, conversion to Catholicism, and death under the Nazis in 1944 adds to the enigma and shifts the critical focus further still. But Jacob’s poetic playfulness — his many-faceted irony, wordplay, narrative heterogeneity, tragi-comedy,self-reflexivity and polyphony — may begin to offer insights into his esprit créateur, which, true to the (post)modernist vision, is not to be found in the usual ways. For the aim of Max Jacob, connoisseur of traditional storytelling as well as spearhead of the literary vanguard, is to jolt the unconscious, the energetic kernel of creativity.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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