Arthur Cravan: poet, boxer, blogger

Strange Flowers

La gloire est un scandale.

– Arthur Cravan

If Arthur Cravan believed that “glory is a scandal,” he was equally convinced that scandal could be glorious. And it was for this that the Dadaists were so keen to co-opt the poet-boxer’s legend after his disappearance (and presumed death) in 1918: he shared their nihilistic disdain for the past, contempt for hypocrisy and above all, their lust for provocation.

Cravan was a tireless self-publicist. Born in Switzerland on this day in 1887 with the name Fabian Avenarius Lloyd, changing it to the snappier Arthur Cravan was just the beginning of his quest for attention. Although he left his family name behind, he made much of his connection to Oscar Wilde (the playwright’s wife was Cravan’s father’s sister). And while determined to make his way as a poet despite disapproval from his overbearing mother, Cravan was wily enough to realise that boxing

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