Blaise Cendrars

BLAISE CENDRARS was born in Switzerland, wrote in French, quit publishing poetry in 1925, published two novels in 1926, and, according to a web-page bio, "did his best to fictionalize his past." He was a runaway at 15 or 16, and his early poetry was experimental. He was acquainted with the originators of Cubism and was published by the originators of Surrealism. In 1915 he lost his right arm in war battle. In 1924 he met John dos Pasos and Ernest Hemingway. A decade later he was friends with Henry Miller. He died a few days after winning the Paris Grand Prize award in literature.

His Novels

Other than his memoir-based later writings, his two most known novels are:

SUTTER'S GOLD (1926), a fictionalized account of John Sutter of the California Gold Rush who died in poverty. The book was a favorite of Josef Stalin.

MORAVAGINE (1926) the title character's name, is a madman descendant of the last king of Hungary. Moravagine ("death to the vagina") dies in an asylum and his papers find their way to Cendrars, a character in the book. Moravagine's madness mirrors the chaos of his times.


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Blaise Cendrars

(born Frédérick Sauser, Switzerland)


two poems, translations by Greg Baysans

"The Dress Had a Body on It"

intro to "Moravagine"?