The Thief of Talant

Pierre Reverdy (Author) Ian Seed (Translator)


Challenged by his friend, poet and art critic Max Jacob, to write a novel, Pierre Reverdy produced this fragmented, beautiful assemblage of loneliness, paranoia and depersonalization drawn from his own experience of Paris in the early 20th century, the sometimes antagonistic atmosphere of the avant-garde and his own troubled relationship with Jacob, who tended to detect the threat of his literary treasures being plagiarized among everyone he knew. Toward the end of his life, Reverdy confirmed that the alienated, anxious "thief" of this novel in verse was a portrait of himself ("Talant" conveys both the dual echo in French of "talent" and the small town of Talan near Dijon, thereby evoking a potential plagiarizer from the countryside), and "Abel the Magus," a semi-satirical portrait of Jacob.

Originally published in French in 1917, The Thief of Talant is a radical experiment in verse and narrative, a moving evocation of the loss (and recovery) of self and an encrypted guidebook to the "heroic" years of Cubism.

Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960) was a reclusive yet integral component of the early Parisian avant-garde and a friend to painters such as Modigliani, Picasso and Gris, who, with fellow poets such as Apollinaire and Jacob, came to represent a faction known as the "Cubist poets." In 1926, Reverdy withdrew from Paris for a life of seclusion in the northwest of France.

Product Details

$13.95  $12.83
Wakefield Press
Publish Date
September 27, 2016
4.5 X 0.5 X 7.0 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author

Pierre Reverdy (13 September 1889 - 17 June 1960) was a French poet associated with surrealism and cubism. Pierre Reverdy was born in Narbonne and grew up near the Montagne Noire in his father's house. Reverdy came from a family of sculptors. His father taught him to read and write. He studied at Toulouse and Narbonne. Reverdy arrived in Paris in October 1910. It was there, at the famous Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre that he met Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Louis Aragon, Andr Breton, Philippe Soupault and Tristan Tzara. For sixteen years, Reverdy lived for his writing. Reclusive by nature, Reverdy began to distance himself from these circles, and in 1926, at the age of 37, he left Paris, converted to Catholicism and went to live in Solesmes, home of the great St. Peter's Abbey. He stayed there until his death in 1960.
Ian Seed teaches Creative Writing at the University of Chester, and has lectured in Italian language and literature. He is a poet, critic, fiction writer, editor and translator. He has published a number of collections of poetry and prose, including five full-length collections with Shearsman Books, the most recent of which, New York Hotel (2018), was selected by Mark Ford as a TLS Book of the Year. Seed's first full-length collection, Anonymous Intruder, was published by Shearsman in 2009. Shearsman have since published his collections Shifting Registers (2011), Makers of Empty Dreams (2014), Identity Papers (2016) and New York Hotel (2018) as well as his translation of Gezim Hajdari's Bitter Grass (2020).