The fictions of Arthur Cravan

Poetry, boxing and revolution

The legendary poet and boxer Arthur Cravan, a fleeting figure on the periphery of early twentieth-century European avant-gardism, is frequently invoked as proto-Dada and Surrealist exemplar. Yet he remains an insubstantial phenomenon, not seen since 1918, clouded in drifting untruths. This study processes philosophical positions into a practical recovery – from nineteenth-century Nietzsche to twentieth-century Deleuze – with thoughts on subjectivity, metaphor, representation and multiplicity. From fresh readings and new approaches – of Cravan’s first published work as a manifesto of simulation; of contributors to his Paris review Maintenant as impostures for the Delaunays; of idle dissipation in New York as a Duchampian readymade; and of the conjuring of Cravan in Picabia’s elegiac film Entr’acte – The fictions of Arthur Cravan concludes with the absent poet-boxer’s eventual casting off into a Surrealist legacy, and his becoming what metaphor is: a means to represent the world.

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