Blaise Cendrars (1887–1961) was the pseudonym of Frédéric Sauser, the Swiss son of a French Anabaptist father and a Scottish mother. As a young man he traveled widely, from St. Petersburg to New York and beyond, and these wanderings proved the inspiration of much of his later poetry and prose. Settled in Paris in 1912, Cendrars published two long poems, “Easter in New York” and “The Transsiberian,” which made him a major figure in the poetic avant-garde. At the outset of World War I, he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, losing an arm in the battle of the Marnes. A prolific poet, Cendrars was also an exceptional novelist, the author of Moravagine, Gold, Rhum, and The Confessions of Dan Yack, among many other books.
At once truly appalling and appallingly funny, Moravagine bears comparison with Naked Lunch—except that it is a lot more entertaining to read.