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This article is taken from PN Review 12, Volume 6 Number 4, March - April 1980.

from 'Rimbaud the Hooligan' and other pieces (translated by David Gascoyne) Benjamin Fondane

This is not the place for personal reminiscence, but I am proud to have known Fondane, learnt the elements of philosophy from his (particularly Chestov's, and his own, special kind of existential philosophy), and to have been, at a crucial moment of my youth, greatly influenced by him. A poem of mine, "To Benjamin Fondane", I now intend to retitle, when it gets reprinted, "I. M. Benjamin Fondane." The facts of his life are, briefly summed up, as follows:

Benjamin Fondane was born in 1898 in Iasi, Roumania, the second child of a Jewish family of German origin. He had two sisters. In 1914 he published some early poems under the pseudonym of Barbu Fundoianu (after a place-name). In 1921 he published a collection of essays on Proust, Claudel, Mallarmé, Jammes, de Gourmont. In 1923 Fondane left Roumania to settle in Paris. The next year, he met Leon Chestov for the first time
. In 1928 he published Three Scenarios: ciné-poems. The following year, at the invitation of Victoria Ocampo, Fondane visited Argentina, presented a season of avant-garde films, and lectured on Chestov. In 1930 he entered Paramount Studios and became assistant director, then scenario-writer. In 1931 he married Geneviève Tessier, with Chestor and Brancusi as witnesses to the ceremony. Next year, Fondane became a regular contributor to Cahiers du Sud, of which he was soon appointed the Philosophy Correspondent. He published Rimbaud le Voyou in 1933; a long French poem Ulysse, in 1934; and in Switzerland took ...


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