(b Metz, Dec 21, 1859; d Paris, Sept 5, 1936).
French writer, theorist and critic. The family moved to Paris in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, and Kahn was then educated at the Ecole des Chartes and the Ecole des Langues Orientales. In 1879 he met Jules Laforgue and Stéphane Mallarmé and published his first ‘poèmes en prose’. After Charles Baudelaire, Mallarmé was the greatest influence on his poetry and artistic theories. From 1880 to 1884 he did his military service in North Africa and on his return to Paris he soon became involved in the world of literary symbolism. He ran several periodicals, including La Vogue and Le Symboliste in 1886, and the Revue indépendante in 1888. Kahn was a pioneer, though not the sole creator, of ‘free verse’, poetry free of conventional syntactic, metrical and other restrictions. In 1887 he published Les Palais nomades, the first collection of ‘free verse’ poetry.
In his article ‘Réponse des symbolistes’ (...