Max Jacob and Enric Casasses in the Reading Club

Last Thursday we started the fourth season of the Reading Club of the museum. This year we have incorporated a new coordinator, the writer Borja Bagunyà, with whom we will dwell into a carefully chosen selection of readings based around the world of Picasso, the collection and exhibitions of the museum and the relationship of Picasso with Barcelona.  As follows we present the impressions of Borja Bagunyà about this season’s first session:

For the first session of the club, we counted on the presence of the poet Enric Casasses, translator and author of the epilogue of The Dice Cup (1916), by Max Jacob. Casasses laid down ‘breadcrumbs’ to help us find a way through the labyrinth of the poems in prose by Jacob.

Alternating with the reading of fragments from the Art Poètica by Jacob, we noted down some of the main characteristics of Jacob’s writings: humour, playing with generic conventions, the sparse autobiographical notes that he twisted in and the particular kind of literary cubism that he practised, with a will of eliminating anything which wasn’t realted to the word, that is to say, neither the world in which it is supposed that the work fits into, nor the sentimental outpourings of the author. In Jacob’s understanding of poetry, the work should be valued for its internal harmony, in the same way a jewel is valued.

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Max Jacob (1915). Pencil on paper, 13 × 93/4”. Zervos VI, 1284. Private collection

This desire for purity, of classical tradition and of clear “Mallarmean” inheritance, is maybe one of the keys of a difficult book.  Because Jacob’s book is difficult.  He asks us as readers to rethink, that we should adopt an active position and that we should pursue the logic based on which the texts are constructed. However, it can also be especially gratifying. Thanks to Jacob, we can manage to understand why a horrible Mosel wine becomes a terrible protestant temple.

Borja Bagunyà

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