Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name

Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name

Gavin James Bower

Language: English

Pages: 45

ISBN: 1780990448

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Claude Cahun is the most important artist you've never heard of - until now. Writer, photographer, lesbian; revolutionary activist, surrealist, resistance fighter - Cahun witnessed the birth of the Paris avant-garde, lived through two World Wars and, as 'Der Soldat ohne Namen', risked death by inciting mutiny on Nazi-occupied Jersey. And yet, she's until recently been merely a peripheral figure in these world-shaping events, relegated by academics to the footnotes in the history of art, sexual politics and revolutionary movements of the last century. Now more so than ever, Cahun demands a significant presence in the history of surrealism and the avant-garde - even, in the literary canon of early twentieth-century literature. Indeed her one major book, Disavowals, is a masterpiece of anti-memoir writing. Much has been made of her as a photographer, but Claude Cahun 'the writer' was one of the most radical and prescient leftists of the century. At a time when her star is rising like never before Claude Cahun: The Soldier With No Name represents the first explicit attempt in English to posit Cahun as an important figure in her own right, and to popularise one of the most prescient and influential artists of her generation.

The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things

Convergences: Essays on Art and Literature

Shadows: The Depiction of Cast Shadows in Western Art

Claude Cahun: The Soldier with No Name

The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

diary entry she complains of a constricted lung, exacerbated by the plastering of the cells: ‘How this dust was penetrating our “coffins”…’) Her failing body therefore prevented the return to Paris her mind so craved. Letters to Breton and Jean Schuster confirmed this thwarted desire, and a 1951 note to Barbier indicates her ill health. Exhibiting a schizophrenic’s pathology towards multiple identities as an alternative to no identity at all, Cahun wrote in Aveux: ‘There are as many ways of

final draft of his close friend Oscar Wilde’s Salome, and also translated Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders. He died in 1905. Cahun was a fin de siècle lottery winner, who inherited an intellectual fortune as part of a great, if incestuous, literary dynasty. She was also a Jew. In 1906, at the height of the Dreyfus Affair and amid growing anti-Semitism in France, Cahun was schooled in Surrey for two years – where she was nonetheless bullied for her Jewishness. She would never attain fluency in

household. Cahun’s father, who by all accounts failed to understand both her intellect and sexuality, remarried in 1917 the mother of Marcel Moore. The two girls Cahun and Moore, already close, became inseparable, and moved into a small apartment above Le Phare de la Loire. Her father opposed the move, but could do little to stop it. In the apartment the two girls lived as lovers. An early self-portrait of Cahun in a Medusa-like pose – strands of hair enveloping her face as she lay in repose,

Moore – her other her. The launch of the book, however – and the photomontage within – said it all. The display, in the window of the publisher, Editions du Carrefour, 169 Boulevard Saint-Germain, was meant to cause a stir; a declaration of the artist’s public unveiling. the book itself was an expensive production, its quality praised by Albert-Birot in a letter of thanks on receiving his copy. Alongside it was Ernst’s novel La femme aux cent têtes, the presence of which rendered the event a

elusive. The ‘mirage in the pupil’ is only a glimpse, or a ghost, of her self. Other influences ‘haunt’ Aveux. Nietzsche was widely read within the symbolist fraternity, particularly his notion of the self-destructive genius. Both he and Cahun were also concerned with social dynamics and religion and their role in defining an individual’s morals. Though Nietzsche relies on hierarchy (Der Ubermensch) and feels superior to humanity, while Cahun feels apart, The Antichrist is cited in Aveux as the

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