Books: Son of a Sphinx

APOLLINAIRE by Francis Steegmuller. 365 pages. Farrar, Straus. $6.50.

Being a living legend in one's own lifetime is hard on the liver—especially in Paris. But it is even harder on the serious biographer who, several generations later, tries to separate subject and myth. Poet-Critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who died on the eve of the 1918 armistice, is an almost classic case in point. For the avantgarde, he loomed as a giant figure, an irrepressible rebel against stuffy conventions, a decisive experimental voice in modern French poetry, and the cultural midwife of the cubist movement in...

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