• The Astonished Man
‘What a writer learns from Cendrars is to follow his nose, to obey life’s commands, to worship no other god but life.’ – Henry Miller

The Astonished Man is the extraordinary first volume of Blaise Cendrars’ autobiography.

After chronicling the author’s exploits in the Foreign Legion (including the loss of his arm), the narrative sets off across continents. From Africa to South America, Cendrars encounters everyone from Gallic gipsies to Piquita, the Mexican millionairess. And to all his encounters he brings the vitality, savage humour and vivid observation that characterizes his dazzling writing.

Translated from the French by Nina Rootes
‘That astonishing fireball of an author.’ – Daily Telegraph
‘An extraordinary man who also happened to be an extraordinary writer.’ – Irish Times
‘Exuberant, bizarre, picaresque … the only great modern writer to get his arm blown off in the Foreign Legion.’ – Granta
‘Most compelling is what Cendrars calls “the demon of writing”, which takes the autobiographical as a where not only can we be abruptly transported to another continent without knowing just how we got there but allows a seamless movement between normally segregated modes of writing: from meticulous realistic description and Whitmanesque catalogs to quasi-philosophic or sociological meditations to surrealistic or lyrical passages that at times rise to the rhapsodic. Although Cendrars presents himself as a man of aplomb in the face of all manner of odd situations and characters, the astonishment is manifest in this demonic writing that re-creates or simply creates a sense of life experienced as a perpetual force of mutation, and it is the mutants who have Cendrars’s allegiance.’ – Contemporary Review


BLAISE CENDRARS (1887–1961) was born Frédéric Louis Sauser in Switzerland. He became a naturalised French citizen in 1916, after fighting with the Foreign Legion during World War One. His varied and well-travelled life is chronicled in his three semi-autobiographical novels, The Astonished Man, Lice and Sky. His novels and poetry were of considerable influence in the European modernist movement and greatly influenced writers further afield such as John Dos Passos. He died in Paris in 1961.
Bibliographic Data
Date Published 1st April 2000
ISBN Number 9780720612103
Pages 272

The Astonished Man

  • £10.99


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Tags: Avant-Garde, First World War, French Literature, Nina Rootes, Cendrar, Cendrars, Blaise Cendrars