August 30, 2014

Maxime Moses Alexandre

Maxime Moses Alexandre [Alsace / writes in French and German]

Maxime Alexandre (upper, left, top row) among the Surrealists.

Maxime Moses Alexandre was born Wolfisheim in the Upper Alsace into a liberal and Francophile Jewish family. His family spoke in German, but as did many citizens of this previous French-speaking imperial province, also spoke French and her politically liberal.

    When he was twelve years old, he wrote his first poems in German.

    Shortly before the First World War, his family moved to Lausanne for greater safety. There, he met the noted novelist writer Roman Rolland.   

     On travels to Zurich, he met the precursors of the Dada movement, including Jean Arp. After the War, he returned to Strasburg in the Alsace, he continued his studies and met Louis Aragon, who invited him to Paris.

     In Paris, he decided to write only in French. In the French capital, he met André Breton, Robert Desnos, Benjamin Perét and the group who founded the Surrealist movement. He took part in the Surrealists’ activities from 1923 to 1932, but in an disagreement with the Surrealists pro-communist and socialist positions, broke with Breton, as was excluded from the movement.

    Beginning in 1931 until the year 1939, Alexandre lived a productive life as a poet, prose writer, and dramatist. Among his books of poetry were Le Corsage (1931), Le Mal de Nuit (1935), Sujet à l’amour (1937), and La loi mortelle (1939). His prose works included L’Amour image, Sagessé de la Folie, Memoirs of a Surrealist (1968), and his Journal (1951-1975).

     When war broke out once again, he served in the French army, but received some harassment for his military superiors. In 1940 he was captured by the Germans, but was able to secure his release, finding refuge in the southern part of France with Aragon.

      The trauma of the war and his mother’s death in 1949 created great mental difficulties for the writer, and, under the influence of Paul Claudel, began conversion to Catholicism. He was baptized on December 8, 1949, but resists going further in the process.

      Alexandre began to write in German once more in the 1950s, living on for several more years until 1976. He was buried in Rosheim, France in Alsace.


Mes respects (Parmain: HC, 1931); Le Corsage (Paris: Corti, 1931); Le Mal de Nuit (Paris: Corrêa, 1935); Sujet à l’amour (Paris: Gallimard, 1937); La loi mortelle (Paris: La Sagesse, 1939); Les yeux pour pleurer (Paris: Le Sagittaire, 1945); Durst und Quelle (Amriswil: Bodensee, 1952); La Peau et les Os. Poèmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1956); L’Oiseau de papier (Paris: Rougerie, 1972); Circonstances de la Poésie (Paris: Rougerie, 1976); Portrait de l’auteur (Paris: Rougerie, 1978); Das Meer sang fern von uns. Gedichte (Berlin: Henssel, 1984)

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