A textless title: the mythical status of Blaise Cendrars' La Légende de Novgorode

Nina Parish

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Throughout his literary career, Blaise Cendrars gave his first poem, La Légende de Novgorode, a privileged position. However, although the title is cited at the top of all his bibliographical lists, nobody had seen this work and it was thought to be mythical until a Russian translation was discovered in 1995. Scholars of Cendrars’s work were astounded by this unexpected discovery and immediately set out to examine its authenticity. In this article, it is argued that the importance of La Légende de Novgorode lies not in its discovery as authentic or forged text, but rather in its existence as a textless title, in its very textual absence. The questions of why Cendrars gave this poem such a prominent position and chose to situate his literary beginnings in a Russian legend could instead be said to cast light on the creative process itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-33
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of European Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • provisional
  • indeterminate
  • unfinished
  • poetry
  • irreverence


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