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Max Jacob

Max Jacob (July 12, 1876 - March 5, 1944) was a French poet, painter, writer and critic.

Born in Quimper[?], Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career. On Boulevard Voltaire, he shared a room with Pablo Picasso, who introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire, who in turn introduced him to Georges Braque. He would become close friends with Jean Cocteau and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted his portrait in 1916.

Jacob, who had jewish origins, claimed to have had a vision of Christ in 1909, and converted to Catholicism. But, despite his hopes, his new religion could not rid him of his homosexual longings, about which he once said, "If heaven witnesses my regrets, heaven will pardon me for the pleasures which it knows are involuntary." Notorious for his heaving drinking, Jacob said he joined the artistic community in Montparnasse to "sin disgracefully." In 1915, he arrived drunk at the funeral of Picasso's lover, Eva Gödel, and attempted to seduce the driver of the hearse.

Max Jacob is regarded as an important link between the symbolists and the surrealists, as can be seen in his prose poems Le cornet à dés (Dice Box, 1917) and in his paintings, exhibitions of which were held in New York City in 1930 and 1938.

His writings include the novel Saint Matorel (1911), the verses Le laboratoire central (1921), and Le défense de Tartuffe (1919), which expounds his philosophical and religious attitudes.

Eventually he would be forced to move to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire[?], Loiret, where he was hiding during the German occupation of World War II. Jewish by birth, Jacob’s brother was deported to Auschwitz and then his sister Mirthé-Léa and her husband were deported where they were murdered by the Nazis. On February 24, 1944 Max Jacob too was arrested by the Gestapo and put into Orleans prison then transferred to a concentration camp in Drancy[?] where he died from bronchial pneumonia.

First interred in Ivry[?], after the war ended in 1945 his remains were transferred to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire cemetery.



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