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Jean-Paul Clébert

Jean-Paul Clébert (1926–2011) ran away from his Jesuit boarding school at the age of seventeen to join the French Re­sistance, serving undercover in a Montmartre brothel to gather intelligence on the patrons who were German soldiers. After the liberation of Paris he wandered through a catalog of odd jobs including boat painter, cook, newspaper seller, funeral director’s mute, and café proprietor. For many months he lived with the city’s down-and-outs, though without losing touch with some of Paris’s literary figures, notably Blaise Cendrars, and gathered the raw material for this book, first published in 1952 as Paris insolite. In 1956 he moved to Provence, where he remained for the rest of his life, writing many books, including a classic firsthand study of Gypsy life, originally published in 1961 and translated by Charles Duff as The Gypsies; and the encyclopedic Dictionnaire du Surréalisme (1996).

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