SAINT-JOHN-PERSE

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Author

FrenchBorn Alexis LEGER

French poet and diplomat

Born on May 31, 1887 in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

Died on September 20, 1975 in Presq'ile-de-Giens, France

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Alexis Leger was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. His grand-grandfather, a solicitor, had lived in Guadeloupe since 1815. His grandfather was also a solicitor, his father was a lawyer and member of the City Council. The Leger family was in charge of two family-owned plantations, one of coffee (La Joséphine) and the other of sugar (Bois-Debout).



In 1897, Hégésippe Légitimus, the first native Guadeloupan elected president of the Guadeloupe General Council took office with a vindictive agenda towards colonists. The Leger family returned to metropolitan France in 1899 and settled in Pau. The young Alexis felt like an expatriate and spent much of his time playing sports, such as hiking, fencing, horseback riding and sailing.

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In 1904 he met the poet Francis Jammes at Orthez, received the baccalaureate with honors and started an academic course in Law at the University of Bordeaux. He frequented cultural clubs where he met Paul Claudel and Odilon Redon. He wrote poems inspired by the story of Robinson Crusoe (Images à Crusoe) and undertook a translation of Pindar. He interrupted his studies in 1907 because of his family's difficult financial situation at the death of his father. He did, however, receive his degree in 1910. He published his first book, Éloges, in 1911.



He was recruited to serve in the Foreign Office in 1914 and spent his first years in office travelling to Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom. When World War I broke, he held the position of press corps attaché for the government. From 1916 to 1921, he held the post of secretary at the French Embassy in Peking. In 1921 in Washington, while taking part in a conference on disarmament, he was noticed by Aristide Briand, the then-Prime Minister of France, who recruited him as his assistant. In Paris, he met André Gide and Paul Valéry, as well as Igor Stravinsky, Nadia Boulanger and les Six.



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Geographical origins

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