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Gustave Kahn

Born in December 21, 1859 / Died in September 5, 1936 / France / French

Gustave Kahn poet from France was born on December 21, 1859, had 76 years and died on September 5, 1936. Poems were written mainly in French language. Dominant movement is symbolism.


Gustave Kahn  was a French Symbolist poet and art critic. Kahn was a Jew from Lorraine. He chose sides with Émile Zola in the Dreyfus affair. His wife Elizabeth converted to Judaism as a protest against anti-semitism, changing her name to Rachel. He claimed to have invented the term Vers libre, or free verse; he was in any case one of the first European exponents of the form. His principal publications include Les Palais nomades, 1887, Domaine de fée, 1895, and Le Livre d'images, 1897. Kahn also made a valuable contribution to the history of the movement with his book Symbolistes et décadents, 1902.

In addition to his poems, Kahn was a public intellectual who wrote novels, plays, and literary criticism. He played a key role in a number of periodicals, including La Vogue, La Revue Indépendante, La Revue Blanche and Le Mercure de France. He was also an art critic and collector who stayed current with developments in painting and sculpture until his death. He also played a role in a number of debates on public issues, including anarchism, feminism, socialism, and Zionism. In the 1920's he was (head)editor of Menorah, a Jewish bimonthly magazine which folded in 1933.

Several of his poems were set to music by the composer Charles Loeffler.

After his death, his manuscripts were placed in the collection of the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.