Voyage en autobus

Year: 1921

Author: Marcel Sauvage 1895

Artist: Max Jacob (1876 - 1944)

Publisher: Aux Editions Liber

Voyage en autobus, dust jacket

The Koopman Collection's copy of Voyage en autobus is bound in linen, with a small map of Paris on the front cover. This image is quite appropriate for this collection of poetry. The reader is led through the city by 24 poems about the 24 bus stops that dotted the road from Montmartre to Saint-Michel in 1920. The city quarters along this bus route were going through many changes after World War I: the first poem reads 'Everything has changed already'. The poems are no 'ageless' expressions of feeling, but concrete descriptions of various locations, with countless references to people, things and events of that moment. They are poems that attempt to express the rhythm of the modern city.

Hectic city-life of Paris

Effervescent poems such as these benefit from an unconventional form. The typography in Voyage en autobus reflects the New realism, with black margins, blank lines, indented lines and words that have been capitalized or printed in divergent typefaces. The poems have a stern look. The four drawings that Max Jacob produced for this collection in 1920 don't really seem to fit in with the others. In a sketchy, graceful style they offer an image of Paris all but devoid of people, with horses, coaches, trees in full bloom and old-fashioned streetlights. There is no sign of neon lights, jazz bands, modern machinery or citizens dispirited by the war- all of which figure prominently in the poems.

The author of this collection, Marcel Sauvage, is relatively unknown as a poet. He worked as a journalist, and didn't become known until 1949, when his biography of Josephine Baker was published. Illustrator Max Jacob had already made his name when cubism first appeared, but he was known mostly as a poet, not as a graphic artist. And yet, Jacob made his living in his latter years by virtue of his gouaches. In 1921, the year when Voyage en autobus was published, Jacob left the hectic city life of Paris on his first retreat: he lived as a monk in the monastery of Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, illustrating his own poetry and selling these little works of art to bibliophiles for a good price.

Bibliographical description

Description: Voyage en autobus : où il est parlé des 24 stations de Montmartre à Saint-Michel / par Marcel Sauvage ; avec 4 images de Max Jacob. - Paris : Aux Editions Liber, [1921]. - 50 p., [4] bl. pl. : ill. ; 26 cm

Printer: Perfecta (Parijs)

Edition: 1000 copies

This copy: Number 249 of 1000

Bibliography: Bénézit 7-412/413

Shelfmark: KW Koopm K 23


  • Pierre Andreu, Vie et mort de Max Jacob. Paris, La Table Ronde, 1982
  • Gerald Kamber, Max Jacob and the poetics of cubism. Baltimore, The John Hopkins Press, 1971
  • Christine van Rogger-Andreucci, Max Jacob: Acrobate absolu. Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 1993