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Albert Cohen (1) [1895–1981]

This page covers the author of Belle du Seigneur.

For other authors named Albert Cohen, see the disambiguation page.

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Albert Cohen was born in Corfu, Greece, to Greek-Jewish parents. The family moved to Marseilles, France, when he was a small child. He attended the Lycée Thiers, from which he graduated in 1913. The following year, he went to study law in Geneva, Switzerland. He graduated from law school in 1917 and enrolled in the literature school, where he remained until 1919. That year, he became a Swiss citizen and married Elisabeth Brocher, with whom he had a daughter. Elisabeth died of cancer in 1924. Cohen published his first novel, Solal, in 1930. He became director of Revue Juive (The Jewish Review), a periodical whose contributors included Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. He also served as a civil servant in Geneva from 1926 to 1931. In 1933, he re-married to Marianne Goss. Having become involved in the Zionist movement, he was named the official representative to the French government of the Jewish Agency for Palestine in 1939. During World War II, Cohen fled first to Bordeaux, then to London, where he worked as an attorney for the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. He married his third wife, Bella Berkowich, in the 1940s. He returned to Geneva in 1947 and became Director of the Protection Division of the International Refugee Organization. In 1957, he turned down the post of Ambassador to Israel in order to continue his literary career. The monumental novel Belle du Seigneur (1968), a sequel to Solal, is considered his masterpiece and among the major novels of the 20th century. It won the Grand Prix du Roman of the Academie française and was adapted into an English-language film in 2010. Cohen received the Legion d'honneur in 1970. His other works include the one-act play Ezéchiel (1927) and the memoirs Livre de ma mère (1954), O vous, frères humains (1972), and Carnets (1978). Much of his work appeared in the posthumous anthology Oeuvres (1994).

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