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Max Jacob

The Printed Head
Volume IV, Number 6

Translated by Christopher Pilling & David Kennedy.
ISBN 1 900565 01 3
64pp 13.5 x 21cm
out of print

A translation of the first part of Le Cornet à dés.

Max Jacob (1876-1944) was born in Quimper, Brittany, to a middle-class Jewish family. In Paris by the turn of the century, he worked at a variety of jobs, including department-store salesman, art crtic and piano teacher, before becoming part of the brilliant artistic and literary scene which revolved around Picasso and Apollinaire. In 1909 he saw a vision of Christ on a wall in the house where he was lodging, and was converted to Catholicism. After 1921, most of his life was spent away from Paris in the village of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, and it was here that he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944,in his pension room, after Mass. He died of pneumonia in the transit camp at Drancy the day before his group was to be sent on to Auschwitz.

Le Cornet à dés, written between 1904 and 1917 and first self-published in 1917, has long been regarded as the masterpiece among Jacob’s thirty or so books. Its prose poetry is by turns racy, punning, surrealistic, ironic and macabre. In its tension between fragmented form and a desire to contain the whole world, it catches a defining moment in twentieth-century art and literature which continues to reverberate in the criticism and aesthetics of our own time.



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