Charles Corm (1894-1963)
Corm was born in 1894 in Beirut, Lebanon, the son of the Lebanese artist Daoud Corm. He graduated from the Oriental Faculty at Saint Joseph University with high honors. In 1934 at the age of 40, he left business for a life of literature and philanthropy. In 1935, he married Samia Baroody, who had been Miss Lebanon and took second place in the Miss Universe pageant in New York City in 1934. They had four children: David, Hiram, Virginie and Madeleine. Charles Corm continued to live in Beirut, where he died in 1963.
He was an acclaimed Lebanese businessman, writer and philanthropist. He is considered to be the leader of the Phoenicianism movement in Lebanon which ignited a surge of nationalism that led to Lebanon’s independence. In a country torn by sectarian conflicts, Corm’s intention was to find a common root shared by all Lebanese beyond their religious beliefs (the Phoenicians were pagans). Although most Lebanese authors at the time wrote in Arabic, Corm opted to mostly write in French instead. One of his most significant contributions is La Revue Phénicienne, a publication he founded in 1920 in which many of the most influential Middle East writers of the time took part and which strongly inspired Lebanon’s independence.He is considered to be the most influential and awarded modern Lebanese writers (along with Khalil Gibran) due to his advocacy of Lebanese identity and nationalism. His work is found in most of the leading public libraries and universities in the world. He is the recipient of more than 100 international literary and non literary awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe International Poetry Prize 1934, Citizen of Honor of New York City,Grand Officer of the National Order of the Cedar, Officer of the French Poets’ Society, Medal of Honor of the Académie Francaise1950 (France), Grand Officer of the Order of Human Merit (Geneva), Cross of Academic Honor of the American International Academy (Washington DC), Grand Officer of the Academic Order (Rome).
Prior to his literary career, Corm was one of the Middle East’s most successful businessmen of his times as the exclusive agent of Ford motor cars as well as several leading American automotive and non-automotive brands for the entire Middle East region at a time when Ford was the only car maker in the world. His fortune made, he decided to devote his time to full-time writing when he was 40 years old. In addition to his literary legacy, he leaves behind him one of the most substantial estates in the region.
A philanthropist and a Lebanese patriot, Charles Corm helped finance numerous Lebanese state buildings and entities as well as the National Museum, the National Library and other cultural landmarks at a time when the nascent Lebanese state lacked funds. Furthermore, with no formal training, he designed the plans of the Corm Building in the heart of Beirut.
Corm also totally financed the Lebanese pavilion at the 1939 World Fair in New York City. He was honored by Mayor LaGuardia with the keys to the city, the highest distinction awarded by the city.
WorksLa Revue Phénicienne
La Montagne Inspirée, [[Edgar Allan Poe]] International Poetry Prize 1934
6000 ans de Génie Pacifique au Service de l’Humanité
Les Cahiers de l’Enfant
La Montagne Parfumée
Médaillons en Musique de l’Ame Libanaise
Petite Cosmogonie Sentimentale
La Planète Exaltée
Le Mystère de l’Amour
*La Symphonie de la Lumière