Joseph Kessel

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Joseph Kessel.

Joseph Kessel (10 February 1898 – 23 July 1979) was a French journalist and novelist. He was a member of the Académie française and Grand officer of the Legion of Honour.

Biography[edit]

Kessel was born in Villa Clara, Entre Ríos, Argentina, because of the constant journeys of his father, a Litvak doctor. From 1905 to 1908, Joseph Kessel lived the first years of his childhood in Orenburg, Russia, before the family moved to France in 1908. He studied in lycée Masséna, Nice and lycée Louis-le-Grand, Paris, and took part in the First World War as an aviator. He was also an aviator during the Second World War, assigned to the Free French 342 "Lorraine" bomber Squadron of the Royal Air Force, with Romain Gary, who was also a talented French novelist.

Kessel wrote several novels and books that were later represented in the cinema, notably Belle de Jour (by Luis Buñuel in 1967). In 1943 he and his nephew Maurice Druon translated Anna Marly's song Chant des Partisans into French from its original Russian. The song became one of the anthems of Free French Forces during the Second World War.

He was elected at the Académie française in 1962.

Joseph Kessel died on July 23, 1979 in Avernes, Val-d'Oise. He is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.

The Joseph-Kessel Prize (Prix Joseph Kessel) is a prestigious prize in French language literature, given to "a book of a high literary value written in French". The jury counts or has counted among its members Tahar Ben Jelloun, Jean-Marie Drot, Michèle Kahn, Pierre Haski, Gilles Lapouge, Michel Le Bris, Érik Orsenna, Patrick Rambaud, Jean-Christophe Rufin, André Velter and Olivier Weber.

Bibliography[edit]

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