A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets

By John Pilling | Go to book overview
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Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Born in Rome; the illegitimate son of Angelica de Kostrowitzsky and an unknown father, probably an officer in the Italian army. Educated in Monte Carlo, Cannes and Nice. First achieved notoriety in a small town in the Belgian Ardennes, where he and his brother failed to pay a hotel bill. After a period in Paris he took up a post as tutor in French to a German family in Honnef-on-Rhine, where he met an English governess, Annie Playden, whom he afterwards pursued to London, though unable and perhaps unwilling to pursue her to America, whither she finally fled to evade his ardour. Returned to Paris, where he quickly became the leading apologist for the independent and experimental painters of the first decade of the century, with all of whom he was on friendly terms. Wrote several pornographic pot-boilers to keep himself in funds, and took the painter Marie Larencin as his mistress. Wrote what are generally considered his greatest poems in the period 1903-11, the year Alcools was first published. Came before the magistrates again for his part in the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre, for which he was placed in the Santé prison for a few days before being discharged. Began to write poetry of a more experimental kind, influenced by the painters he knew, which was collected in the volume Calligrammes published just before his death. Trained for the artillery in Nimes, where he fell in love with an aristocratic woman he knew as 'Lou', and afterwards with a woman he met on the train between Nice and Marseilles. Received a headwound on the Western Front which hastened his death. Married in the last year of his life. Died in Saint-Germain, Paris, where Picasso's statue in his memory is to be found.

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A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets
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