At the Realschule in Basel in he met his lifelong friend the sculptor August Suter. Finally, in , he left school due to poor performance and began an apprenticeship with a Swiss watchmaker in Russia. While living in St. Petersburg , he began to write, thanks to the encouragement of R. Supposedly fourteen copies were made, but Cendrars claimed to have no copies of it, and none could be located during his lifetime.
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Moravagine is the last, degenerate heir to a long line of Eastern Europe noblemen. Fascinated by this man, the physician helps him escape then shares his picaresque travel around the world, bumping from Russian terrorists to American natives, in a trail of crimes. Finally they return to Europe just in time for World War I, when "the whole world was doing a Moravagine.
This contrast contributes to the peculiar feelings some readers have when reading the novel. Woman is under the sign of the moon, this reflection, this dead star, and that is why the more Woman gives birth, the more she engenders death. Cendrars was quite conscious that Moravagine was some sort of an other, different, himself. Ils sont tous autobiographiques. I fed, raised a parasite at my expense. At the end I no longer knew who plagiarized the other.
He traveled in my place. He made love in my place. But there was never a real identification because each one was self, me and the Other. A tragic one-on-one that makes it possible to write only one book or several times the same book. That is why all fine books are alike. They are all autobiographical.
This is why there is only one literary subject: man. That is why there is only one literature: that of this man, this Other, the man who writes.
Heir to an immense aristocratic fortune, mental and physical mutant Moravagine is a monster, a man in pursuit of a theorem that will justify his every desire. Released from a hospital for the criminally insane by his starstruck psychiatrist the narrator of the book , who foresees a companionship in crime that will also be an unprecedented scientific collaboration, Moravagine travels from Moscow to San Antonio to deepest Amazonia, engaged in schemes and scams as, among other things, terrorist, speculator, gold prospector, and pilot. He also enjoys a busy sideline in rape and murder. At last, the two friends return to Europe—just in time for World War I, when "the whole world was doing a Moravagine. Science, the eunuch-like shrink of mass-murdering rapist and all-around criminal Moravagine, relates this hideous tale of debauchery, rapine, pillage, murder, and general good times after springing the title character from the insane asylum where Science worked with him. Their world travels on the eve of the Great War involve blood, misery, and death for everyone but themselves.
Moscou, Sozonov, Avec huit bois de Frans Masereel. Paris, Seghers, Le Panama ou les aventures de mes sept oncles. Paris, Au Sans Pareil, Feuilles de route, I.