The Full Wiki

Jean Cocteau: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Jean Cocteau

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau in his 20s
Born Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau
5 July 1889(1889-07-05)
Maisons-Laffitte, France
Died 11 October 1963 (aged 74)
Milly-la-Foret, France
Partner Panama Al Brown(?) Jean Marais (1937-1963)

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, playwright, artist and filmmaker. Along with other Surrealists of his generation (Jean Anouilh and René Char for example) Cocteau grappled with the "algebra" of verbal codes old and new, mise en scène language and technologies of modernism to create a paradox: a classical avant-garde. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Édith Piaf, whom he cast in one of his one act plays entitled Le Bel Indifferent in 1940, and Raymond Radiguet.

His work was played out in the theatrical world of the Grands Theatres, the Boulevards and beyond during the Parisian epoque he both lived through and helped define and create. His versatile, unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim.

Contents

Biography

French literature
By category
French literary history

Medieval
16th century · 17th century
18th century · 19th century
20th century · Contemporary

French writers

Chronological list
Writers by category
Novelists · Playwrights
Poets · Essayists
Short story writers

France portal
Literature portal

Cocteau was born in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, once a small village near Paris to Georges Cocteau and his wife Eugénie Lecomte, a prominent Parisian family. His father was a lawyer and amateur painter, who committed suicide when Cocteau was nine. He left home at age fifteen. Despite his achievements in virtually all literary and artistic fields, Cocteau insisted that he was primarily a poet and that all his work was poetry. He published his first volume of poems, Aladdin's Lamp, at nineteen. Soon Cocteau became known in the Bohemian artistic circles as 'The Frivolous Prince'—the title of a volume he published at twenty-two. Edith Wharton described him as a man "to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundation of the Heavenly City..."

In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with the writers Marcel Proust, André Gide, and Maurice Barrès. During the Great War Cocteau served in the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. This was the period in which he met the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, artist Amedeo Modigliani and numerous other writers and artists with whom he later collaborated. The Russian ballet-master Sergei Diaghilev challenged Cocteau to write a scenario for the ballet - "Astonish me," he urged. This resulted in Parade which was produced by Diaghilev, designed by Pablo Picasso, and composed by Erik Satie in 1917. An important exponent of Surrealism, he had great influence on the work of others, including the group of composer friends in Montparnasse known as Les Six. The word Surrealism was coined, in fact, by Guillaume Apollinaire in the prologue to Les mamelles de Tirésias , a work begun in 1903 and completed in 1917 less than a year before he died.[1] "If it had not been for Apollinaire in uniform," wrote Cocteau, "with his skull shaved, the scar on his temple and the bandage around his head, women would have gouged our eyes out with hairpins." Cocteau denied being a Surrealist or being in any way attached to the movement.[citation needed]

Friendship with Raymond Radiguet

In 1918 he met the French poet Raymond Radiguet. They collaborated extensively, socialized, and undertook many journeys and vacations together. Cocteau also got Radiguet exempted from military service. In admiration of Radiguet's great literary talent, Cocteau promoted his friend's works in his artistic circle and also arranged for the publication by Grasset of Le Diable au corps (a largely autobiographical story of an adulterous relationship between a married woman and a younger man), exerting his influence to garner the "Nouveau Monde" literary prize for the novel. Some contemporaries and later commentators thought there might have been a romantic component to their friendship.[2] Cocteau himself was aware of this perception, and worked earnestly to dispel the notion that their relationship was sexual in nature.[3]

There is disagreement over Cocteau's reaction to Radiguet's sudden death in 1923, with some claiming that it left him stunned, despondent and prey to opium addiction. Opponents of that interpretation point out that he did not attend the funeral (he generally did not attend funerals) and immediately left Paris with Diaghilev for a performance of Les Noces (The Wedding) by the Ballets Russes at Monte Carlo. Cocteau himself much later characterised his reaction as one of "stupor and disgust." His opium addiction at the time,[4] Cocteau said, was only coincidental, due to a chance meeting with Louis Laloy, the administrator of the Monte Carlo Opera. Cocteau's opium use and his efforts to stop profoundly changed his literary style. His most notable book, Les Enfants Terribles, was written in a week during a strenuous opium weaning. In Opium, Diary of an Addict, he recounts the experience of his recovery from opium addiction in 1929. His account, which includes vivid pen-and-ink illustrations, alternates between his moment to moment experiences of drug withdrawal and his current thoughts about people and events in his world.

The Human Voice

Cocteau's experiments with the human voice peaked with his play La Voix Humaine. The story involves one woman on stage speaking on the telephone with her (invisible and inaudible) departing lover, who is leaving her to marry another woman. The telephone proved to be the perfect prop for Cocteau to explore his ideas, feelings, and "algebra" concerning human needs and realities in communication.

Cocteau acknowledged in the introduction to the script that the play was motivated, in part, by complaints from his actresses that his works were too writer/director-dominated and gave the players little opportunity to show off their full range of talents. La Voix Humaine was written, in effect, as an extravagant aria for Madame Berthe Bovy. Before came Orphée, later turned into one of his more successful films; after came La Machine Infernale, arguably his most fully realized work of art. La Voix Humaine is deceptively simple—a woman alone on stage for almost one hour of non-stop theatre speaking on the telephone with her departing lover. It is, in fact, full of theatrical codes harking back to the Dadaists' Vox Humana experiments after World War One, Alphonse de Lamartine's "La Voix Humaine", part of his larger work Harmonies Poetiques et Religieuses and the effect of the creation of the Vox Humana (Voix Humaine), an organ stop of the Regal Class by Church organ masters (late 1500s) that attempted to imitate the human voice but never succeeded in doing better than the sound of a male chorus at a distance.

Reviews varied at the time and since but whatever the critique, the play, in a nutshell, represents Cocteau's state of mind and feelings towards his actors at the time: on the one hand, he desired to spoil and please them; on the other, he was fed up by their diva antics and was ready for revenge. It is also true that none of Cocteau's works has inspired as much imitation: Francis Poulenc's opera of the same name, Gian Carlo Menotti's "opera bouffa" The Telephone and Roberto Rosselini's film version in Italian with Anna Magnani L'Amore (1948). There has also been a long line of interpreters including Simone Signoret, Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullmann (in the play) and Julia Migenes (in the opera).

According to one theory about how Cocteau was inspired to write La Voix Humaine, he was experimenting with an idea by fellow French playwright Henri Bernstein.[5] "When, in 1930, the Comedie-Française produced his La Voix Humaine...Cocteau disavowed both literary right and literary left, as if to say, "I'm standing as far right as Bernstein, in his very place, but it is an optical illusion: the avant-garde is spheroid and I've gone farther left than anyone else."

Maturity

In the 1930s, Cocteau had an affair with Princess Natalie Paley, the beautiful daughter of a Romanov grand duke and herself a sometimes actress, model, and former wife of couturier Lucien Lelong. She became pregnant. To Cocteau's distress and Paley's life-long regret, the fetus was aborted. Cocteau's longest-lasting relationships were with the French actors Jean Marais and Edouard Dermithe, whom Cocteau formally adopted. Cocteau cast Marais in The Eternal Return (1943), Beauty and the Beast (1946), Ruy Blas (1947), and Orpheus (1949).

In 1940, Le Bel Indifférent, Cocteau's play written for and starring Édith Piaf, was enormously successful. He also worked with Pablo Picasso on several projects and was friends with most of the European art community. Some have believed that Cocteau was homosexual, however, as with his friendship with Radiguet mentioned above, Cocteau himself specifically denied any such element in their relationship. Nevertheless, it is known that his collaborator Jean Marais was also his lover.

Cocteau's films, most of which he both wrote and directed, were particularly important in introducing Surrealism into French cinema and influenced to a certain degree the upcoming French New Wave genre.

Cocteau is best known for his novel Les enfants terribles (1929), and the films Les parents terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946), and Orpheus (1949).

Cocteau died of a heart attack at his chateau in Milly-la-Forêt, Essonne, France, on 11 October 1963 at the age of 74. When hearing about the death of his friend, the French singer Édith Piaf, on the previous day, he choked so badly that his heart failed. He is buried beneath the floor of the Chapelle Saint Blaise Des Simples in Milly-la-Forêt. The epitaph on his gravestone set in the floor of the chapel reads: "I stay among you" ("Je reste avec vous").

Honours and awards

In 1955 Cocteau was made a member of the Académie française and The Royal Academy of Belgium.

During his life Cocteau was commander of the Legion of Honor, Member of the Mallarmé Academy, German Academy (Berlin), American Academy, Mark Twain (U.S.A) Academy, Honorary President of the Cannes film festival, Honorary President of the France-Hungary Association and President of the jazz Academy and of the Academy of the Disc.

Filmography

Works

Literature

Each year links to its corresponding "[year] in literature" article, except for poetry and poetry criticism, which link to corresponding "[year] in poetry" articles.

Poetry
  • 1909 La Lampe d'Aladin
  • 1910 Le Prince frivole
  • 1912 La Danse de Sophocle
  • 1919 Ode à Picasso - Le Cap de Bonne-Espérance
  • 1920 Escale. Poésies (1917-1920)
  • 1922 Vocabulaire
  • 1923 La Rose de François - Plain-Chant
  • 1925 Cri écrit
  • 1926 L'Ange Heurtebise
  • 1927 Opéra
  • 1934 Mythologie
  • 1939 Énigmes
  • 1941 Allégories
  • 1945 Léone
  • 1946 La Crucifixion
  • 1948 Poèmes
  • 1952 Le Chiffre sept - La Nappe du Catalan (en collaboration avec Georges Hugnet)
  • 1953 Dentelles d'éternité - Appoggiatures
  • 1954 Clair-obscur
  • 1958 Paraprosodies
  • 1961 Cérémonial espagnol du Phénix - La Partie d'échecs
  • 1962 Le Requiem
  • 1968 Faire-Part (posthume)
Novels
Theater
Poetry and criticism
  • 1918 Le Coq et l'Arlequin
  • 1920 Carte blanche
  • 1922 Le Secret professionnel
  • 1926 Le Rappel à l'ordre - Lettre à Jacques Maritain
  • 1930 Opium
  • 1932 Essai de critique indirecte
  • 1935 Portraits-Souvenir
  • 1937 Mon Premier voyage (Around the World in 80 Days)
  • 1943 Le Greco
  • 1947 Le Foyer des artistes - La Difficulté d'être
  • 1949 Lettres aux Américains - Reines de la France
  • 1951 Jean Marais - A Discussion about Cinematography (with André Fraigneau)
  • 1952 Gide vivant
  • 1953 Journal d'un inconnu. Démarche d'un poète
  • 1955 Colette (Discourse on the reception at the Royal Academy of Belgium) - Discourse on the reception at the Académie française
  • 1956 Discours d'Oxford
  • 1957 Entretiens sur le musée de Dresde (with Louis Aragon) - La Corrida du 1Template:Er mai
  • 1950: Poésie critique I
  • 1960: Poésie critique II
  • 1962 Le Cordon ombilical
  • 1963 La Comtesse de Noailles, oui et non
  • 1964 Portrait souvenir (posthumous ; A discussion with Roger Stéphane)
  • 1965 Entretiens avec André Fraigneau (posthumous)
  • 1973 Jean Cocteau par Jean Cocteau (posthumous ; A discussion with William Fielfield)
  • 1973 Du cinématographe (posthumous). Entretiens sur le cinématographe (posthumous)
Journalistic poetry
  • 1935-1938 (posthumous)

Film

Director
Scriptwriter
Dialogue writer
Director of Photography

Poetry illustrator

  • 1924 : Dessins
  • 1925 : Le Mystère de Jean l'oiseleur
  • 1926 : Maison de santé
  • 1929 : 25 dessins d'un dormeur
  • 1935 : 60 designs for Les Enfants Terribles
  • 1941 : Drawings in the margins of Chevaliers de la Table ronde
  • 1948 : Drôle de ménage
  • 1957 : La Chapelle Saint-Pierre, Villefranche-sur-Mer
  • 1958 : La Salle des mariages, City Hall of Menton - La Chapelle Saint-Pierre (lithographies)
  • 1959 : Gondol des morts
  • 1960 : Chapelle Saint-Blaise-des-Simples, Milly-la-Forêt
  • 1960 : Windows of the Église Saint-Maximin de Metz

Recordings

  • Colette par Jean Cocteau, discours de réception à l'Académie Royale de Belgique, Ducretet-Thomson 300 V 078 St.
  • Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel and Portraits-Souvenir, La Voix de l'Auteur LVA 13
  • Plain-chant by Jean Marais, extracts from the piece Orphée by Jean-Pierre Aumont, Michel Bouquet, Monique Mélinand, Les parents terribles by Yvonne de Bray and Jean Marais, L'aigle à deux têtes par Edwige Feuillère and Jean Marais, L'Encyclopédie Sonore 320 E 874, 1971
  • Collection of three vinyl recordings of Jean Cocteau including La voix humaine by Simone Signoret, 18 songs composed by Louis Bessières, Bee Michelin and Renaud Marx, on double-piano Paul Castanier, Le discours de réception à l'Académie Française, Jacques Canetti JC1, 1984
  • Derniers propos à bâtons rompus avec Jean Cocteau, 16/09/1963 à Milly-la-Forêt, Bel Air 311035
  • Les Enfants Terribles, radio version with Jean Marais, Josette Day, Silvia Monfort and Jean Cocteau, CD Phonurgia Nova ISBN 2-908325-07-1, 1992
  • Anthology, 4 CD containing numerous poems and texts read by the author, Anna la bonne, La dame de Monte-Carlo and Mes sœurs, n'aimez pas les marins by Marianne Oswald, Le bel indifférent by Edith Piaf, La voix humaine by Berthe Bovy, Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel with Jean Le Poulain, Jacques Charon and Jean Cocteau, discourse on the reception at the Académie Française, with extracts from Les parents terribles, La machine infernale, pieces from Parade on piano with two hands by Georges Auric and Francis Poulenc, Frémeaux & Associés FA 064, 1997
  • Poems by Jean Cocteau read by the author, CD EMI 8551082, 1997
  • Hommage à Jean Cocteau, mélodies d'Henri Sauguet, Arthur Honegger, Louis Durey, Darius Milhaud, Erik Satie, Jean Wiener, Max Jacob, Francis Poulenc, Maurice Delage, Georges Auric, Guy Sacre, by Jean-François Gardeil (baryton) and Billy Eidi (piano), CD Adda 581177, 1989
  • Le testament d'Orphée, journal sonore, by Roger Pillaudin, 2 CD INA / Radio France 211788, 1998

Journals

  • 1946 La Belle et la Bête (film journal)
  • 1949 Maalesh (journal of a stage production)
  • 1983 Le Passé défini (posthumous)
  • 1989 Journal, 1942-1945

Stamps

  • Marianne de Cocteau, 1960

Bibliography

  • Cocteau, Jean, Le coq et l'arlequin: Notes autour de la musique - avec un portrait de l'Auteur et deux monogrammes par P. Picasso, Paris, Éditions de la Sirène, 1918
  • Cocteau, Jean, Le Grand écart, 1923, his first novel
  • Cocteau, Jean, Le Numéro Barbette, an influential essay on the nature of art inspired by the performer Barbette, 1926
  • Cocteau, Jean, The Human Voice, translated by Carl Wildman, Vision Press Ltd., Great Britain, 1947
  • Cocteau, Jean, The Eagle Has Two Heads, adapted by Ronald Duncan, Vision Press Ltd., Great Britain, 1947
  • Cocteau, Jean, "Bacchus." Paris: Gallimard, 1952.
  • Cocteau, Jean, The Holy Terrors (Les Enfants Terribles), translated by Rosamond Lehmann, New Directions. New York, 1957
  • Cocteau, Jean, Opium: The Diary of a Cure, translated by Margaret Crosland and Sinclair Road, Grove Press Inc., New York, 1958
  • Cocteau, Jean, The Infernal Machine And Other Plays, translated by W.H. Auden, E.E. Cummings, Dudley Fitts, Albert Bermel, Mary C. Hoeck, and John K. Savacool, New Directions Books, New York, 1963
  • Cocteau, Jean, Toros Muertos, along with Lucien Clergue and Jean Petit, Brussel & Brussel,1966
  • Cocteau, Jean, The Art of Cinema, edited by André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss, Marion Boyars, London, 1988
  • Cocteau, Jean, Diary of an Unknown, translated by Jesse Browner, Paragon House Publishers, New York, 1988
  • Cocteau, Jean, The White Book (Le livre blanc), sometimes translated as The White Paper, translated by Margaret Crosland, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1989
  • Cocteau, Jean, Les parents terribles, new translation by Jeremy Sams, Nick Hern Books, London, 1994

Footnotes

  1. ^ Surreal Lives
  2. ^ James S. Williams. Jean Cocteau. p. 32. 
  3. ^ Francis Steegmuller (1970). Cocteau, A Biography. "Monsieur, I have just received your letter and must reply despite my regret at being unable to explain the inexplicable. It is possible that my friendship for your son and my deep admiration for his gifts (which are becoming increasingly apparent) are of an uncommon intensity, and that from the outside it is hard to make out how far my feelings go. His literary future is of primary consideration with me: he is a kind of prodigy. Scandal would spoil all this freshness. You cannot possibly believe for a second that I do not try to avoid that by all the means in my power" 
  4. ^ Jean Cocteau Biography - Jean Cocteau Website
  5. ^ Brown, Frederick, An Impersonation of Angels: A Biography of Jean Cocteau, The Viking Press, New York, p.170

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 188911 October 1963) was a French poet, novelist, painter, and filmaker.

Contents

Sourced

I have a piece of great and sad news to tell you: I am dead.
True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.
  • I have a piece of great and sad news to tell you: I am dead.
    • "Visite" in Discours du Grand Sommeil (1920); later published in Collected Works Vol. 4 (1947)
  • A prig always finds a last refuge in responsibility.
    • The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower (1922), Preface
  • I am a lie who always speaks the truth.
    • "La Paquet Rouge in Opéra (1925)
  • The Louvre is like the morgue; one goes there to identify one’s friends.
    • "Le Secret Professionnel" in Le Rappel à l’Ordre (1922; 1926)
    • Variant: The Louvre is a morgue; you go there to identify your friends.
      • As quoted by Roger Shattuck in "A Native Son of Paris", Jean Cocteau and the French Scene (1984)
  • Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.
    • Dessins (1924), as quoted by Pierre Chanel in "A Thousand Flashes of Genius", Jean Cocteau and the French Scene (1984)
  • True realism consists in revealing the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.
    • Le Mystère Laïc (1928); later published in Collected Works Vol. 10 (1950). .
Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs.
  • Wealth is an inborn attitude of mind, like poverty. The pauper who has made his pile may flaunt his spoils, but cannot wear them plausibly.
    • Les Enfants Terribles translation by Rosamond Lehmann (1929).
  • Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what’s known as infinity.
    • "Anubis" in Act 2 of The Infernal Machine (1932); Collected Works Vol. 5 (1948).
  • The day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking toward me, without hurrying.
    • "Postambule" in La Fin du Potomac (1939); later published in Collected Works Vol. 2 (1947)
  • One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.
  • "Du Rêve" in La Difficulté d’Etre [The Difficulty of Being] (1947)
What is line? It is life. A line must live at each point along its course in such a way that the artist’s presence makes itself felt above that of the model...
  • What is line? It is life. A line must live at each point along its course in such a way that the artist’s presence makes itself felt above that of the model... With the writer, line takes precedence over form and content. It runs through the words he assembles. It strikes a continuous note unperceived by ear or eye. It is, in a way, the soul’s style, and if the line ceases to have a life of its own, if it only describes an arabesque, the soul is missing and the writing dies.
    • "De la Ligne" in La Difficulté d’Etre [The Difficulty of Being] (1947)
  • Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.
    • As quoted in The Super 8 Book (1975) by Lenny Lipton and Chet Roaman; also in Aesthetic Aspects of Recent Experimental Film (1980) by Barry Walter Moore, Garth S. Jowett, p. 6
  • After the writer’s death, reading his journal is like receiving a long letter.
    • On the journal of Franz Kafka; diary entry (7 June 1953); Past Tense: Diaries Vol. 2 (1988)
  • Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal. Drugs, alcohol, or lies. Unable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort.
    • "On Invisibility" in Diary of an Unknown (1953)
  • An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.
    • As quoted in Newsweek (16 May 1955) Variant translation: Asking an artist to talk about his work is like asking a plant to discuss horticulture.
Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time...
  • The trouble about the Académie is that by the time they get around to electing us to a seat, we really need a bed.
    • On his election to Académie Française (1955)
  • We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?
    • On his election to Académie Française (1955) Variant translation: Of course I believe in luck. How else does one explain the successes of one's enemies?
  • What is history after all? History is facts which become lies in the end; legends are lies which become history in the end.
    • As quoted in The Observer (22 September 1957)
  • The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.
    • Newsweek (7 April 1958)
You’ve never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.
  • Poetry is indispensable — if I only knew what for.
    • As quoted in The Necessity of Art (1959) by Ernst Fischer, Ch. 1
  • Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.
    • As quoted in New York World Telegram & Sun (21 August 1960); also in Threads: My Life Behind the Seams in the High-Stakes World of Fashion (2004) by Joseph Abboud, p. 79
  • A film is a petrified fountain of thought.
    • Esquire magazine (February 1961)
  • The ear disapproves but tolerates certain musical pieces; transfer them into the domain of our nose, and we will be forced to flee.
    • As quoted in An Encyclopedia of Quotations About Music (1981) by Nat Shapiro, p. 130
  • You’ve never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive.
    • As quoted by Ned Rorem The Dick Cavett Show (PBS) (6 October 1981)
  • Commissions suit me. They set limits. Jean Marais dared me to write play in which he would not speak in the first act, would weep for joy in the second and in the last would fall backward down a flight of stairs.
    • Vogue (May 1983)
  • That pile of paper on his left side went on living like the watch on a dead soldier’s wrist.
    • On his visit to the deathbed of Marcel Proust, as quoted in "Cocteau: The Great Enchanter" by Edmund White Vogue (May 1984)
  • I have lost my seven best friends, which is to say God has had mercy on me seven times without realizing it. He lent a friendship, took it from me, sent me another.
    • Vogue (May 1984)
  • Don’t for a moment believe He was killing the young; He was costuming angels.
    • Vogue (May 1984)
  • He has the manner of a giant with the look of a child, a lazy activeness, a mad wisdom, a solitude encompassing the world.
    • On Orson Welles, as quoted in The New York Times (11 October 1985)
There are too many souls of wood not to love those wooden characters who do indeed have a soul.
  • There are too many souls of wood not to love those wooden characters who do indeed have a soul.
    • On marionettes, as quoted in The New York Times (15 February 1987)
  • The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.
    • As quoted in Moments of Clarity (2002) by Thomas L. Jackson, p. 88
  • The skin of all of us is responsive to gypsy songs and military marches.
    • As quoted in Slonimsky's Book of Musical Anecdotes (2002) by Nicholas Slonimsky, p. 33
  • Mirrors would do well to reflect a little more before sending back images.
    • As quoted in Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists (2007) by James Geary, p. 159
  • The joy of youth is to disobey, but the trouble is that there are no longer any orders.
    • As quoted in Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists (2007) by James Geary, p. 271

Le Coq et l’Arlequin (1918)

Later published in Le Rappel à L’Ordre (1926) and Collected Works Vol. 9 (1950)
We shelter an angel within us. We must be the guardians of that angel.
  • When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.
  • What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you.
  • Art is science made clear.
  • One must be a living man and a posthumous artist.
  • An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.
  • All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.
  • The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.
  • In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.
  • Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far.
    • Variant translation: Tact in audacity consists in knowing how far we may go too far.
  • The extreme limit of wisdom — that’s what the public calls madness.
  • If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas .
  • There are truths which one can only say after having won the right to say them.
  • We shelter an angel within us. We must be the guardians of that angel.
    • Also quoted in Diary of an Unknown (1991) as translated by Jesse Browne.

A Call to Order (1926)

Le Rappel à l’Ordre (1926)
Such is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the strict sense of the word. It lays bare, under a light which shakes off torpor, the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically.
  • Such is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the strict sense of the word. It lays bare, under a light which shakes off torpor, the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically.
    • "Le Secret Professionnel" (originally published 1922); later published in Collected Works Vol. 9 (1950)
  • Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet’s job. The rest is literature.
    • "Le Secret Professionnel" (originally published 1922); later published in Collected Works Vol. 9 (1950)
  • A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.

Opium (1929)

Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death...
  • Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo.
  • Life is a horizontal fall.
  • Everything one does in life, even love, occurs in an express train racing toward death. To smoke opium is to get out of the train while it is still moving. It is to concern oneself with something other than life or death.
  • A car can massage organs which no masseur can reach. It is the one remedy for the disorders of the great sympathetic nervous system. ... The craving for opium can be endured in a car.
  • If a hermit lives in a state of ecstasy, his lack of comfort becomes the height of comfort. He must relinquish it.
  • There is always a period when a man with a beard shaves it off. This period does not last. He returns headlong to his beard.
  • If an addict who has been completely cured starts smoking again he no longer experiences the discomfort of his first addiction. There exists, therefore, outside alkaloids and habit, a sense for opium, an intangible habit which lives on, despite the recasting of the organism.... The dead drug leaves a ghost behind. At certain hours it haunts the house.
  • It is not I who become addicted, it is my body.

Diary of an Unknown (1988)

Diary of an Unknown (1988) as translated by Jesse Browner
One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet.
  • Respect movements, flee schools.
  • Do as the beautiful woman: see to your figure and your petticoats. Though, of course, I am not speaking literally.
  • People would say to Al Brown: "You are not a boxer. You are a dancer." He laughed at this, and won.
  • Do not take up cause against the inaccuracies printed about you. They are your protection.
  • Be a constant outrage to modesty There is nothing to fear: modesty is exercised only among the blind.
  • One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet.
  • Hasten slowly. Run faster than beauty.
  • Find first, seek later.
  • Be helpful, even if it compromises you.
  • Compromise yourself. Obscure your own trail.
  • He who is affected by an insult is infected by it.
  • Understand that some of your enemies are amongst your best friends.
Anything of any importance cannot help but be unrecognizable, since it bears no resemblance to anything already known.
  • Fight any instinct to be humorless, for humorlessness is the worst of all absurdities.
  • Do not fear being ridiculous in relation to the ridiculous.
  • See your disappointments as good fortune. One plan's deflation is another's inflation.
Consider metaphysics as an extension of the physical.
  • Do not close the circle. Leave it open. Descartes closes the circle. Pascal leaves it open. Rousseau's triumph over the encyclopedists is to have left his circle open when they closed theirs.
  • Allow the power of the soul to grow as flagrant as the power of sex.
  • Expect neither reward nor beatitude. Return noble waves for ignoble.
  • Hate only hatred.
  • Disavow anyone who provokes or accepts the extermination of a race to which he does not belong.
  • Be a mere assistant to your unconscious. Do only half the work. The rest will do itself.
  • Consider metaphysics as an extension of the physical.
  • Know that your work speaks only to those on the same wavelength as you.
  • Anything of any importance cannot help but be unrecognizable, since it bears no resemblance to anything already known.
  • The ultimate politeness in art consists of speaking only to those who are able to uncover and measure its relationships. Anything else is symbolic, and symbolism is merely transcendental imagery.

On Invisibility

Poetry is an ethic. By ethic I mean a secret code of behavior, a discipline constructed and conducted according to the capabilities of a man who rejects the falsifications of the categorical imperative.
  • Poetry, being elegance itself, cannot hope to achieve visibility. In that case, you ask me, of what use is it? Of no use. Who will see it? No one. Which does not prevent it from being an outrage to modesty, though its exhibitionism is squandered on the blind. It is enough for poetry to express a personal ethic, which can then break away in the form of a work. It insists on living its own life. It becomes the pretext for a thousand misunderstandings that go by the name of glory...
  • Beauty is always the result of an accident. Of a violent lapse between acquired habits and those yet to be acquired. It baffles and disgusts. It may even horrify. Once the new habit has been acquired, the accident ceases to be an accident. It becomes classical and loses its shock value.
  • Man seeks to escape himself in myth, and does so by any means at his disposal... unnable to withdraw into himself, he disguises himself. Lies and inaccuracy give him a few moments of comfort, the trifling feeling of escape experienced at a masked ball. He distances himself from that which he feels and sees. He invents. He transfigures. He mythifies. He creates. He fancies himself an artist. He imitates, in his small way, the painters he claims are mad.
  • Accuracy is vexing to a crowd of would-be fantasizers. Hasn't our age coined the term "escapism," when in fact the only way to escape oneself is to allow oneself to be invaded?
  • Poetry is a religion without hope. The poet exhausts himself in its service, knowing that, in the long run, a masterpiece is nothing but the perform-ance of a trained dog on very shaky ground.
  • Poetry is an ethic. By ethic I mean a secret code of behavior, a discipline constructed and conducted according to the capabilities of a man who rejects the falsifications of the categorical imperative.
    This personal morality may appear to be immorality itself in the eyes of those who lie to themselves, or who live a life of confusion, in such a manner that, for them, a lie becomes the truth, and our truth becomes a lie...
  • Beauty cannot be recognized with a cursory glance.

Misattributed

This was Jean Cocteau, then a passionately imaginative youth to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundations of the Heavenly City. ~ Edith Wharton
  • The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication: that is why so many bad artists are unable to give it up.
  • Originality consists in trying to be like everybody else — and failing.
    • Raymond Radiguet, who was quoted by Cocteau in his acceptance speech to the Académie Française (October 1955)

Quotes about Cocteau

  • I met a young man of nineteen or twenty, who at that time vibrated with all the youth of the world. This was Jean Cocteau, then a passionately imaginative youth to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundations of the Heavenly City.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

File:Portrait of Jean
Portrait of Jean Cocteau in his 20s

Jean Cocteau[1] 5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French artist, poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, playwright and filmmaker.

In 1955 Cocteau was made a member of the Académie Française and The Royal Academy of Belgium. During his life Cocteau was made a Commander of the Légion d'honeur.

His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie,María Félix, Édith Piaf (whom he cast in one of his one-act plays entitled Le Bel Indifferent in 1940), and Raymond Radiguet.

Cocteau directed eleven films in avant-gard style, wrote scripts for six films and dialogue for three, and directed the photgraphy for one more. He published 23 books or pamphlets of original poetry, and 26 volumes of poetic criticism and collections. He illustrated 12 works of poetry, and wrote five novels. He made a number of recordings, mostly spoken poems. He wrote or worked on 21 stage performances, some of which were ballets, and some were plays.

In all his creative work, he was a 'modernist'.

  • Steegmuller, Francis 1970. Cocteau: a biography. Atlantic-Little, Brown, Boston.
  • Brown, Frederick. An impersonation of Angels: a biography of Jean Cocteau, The Viking Press, New York.
  • Tsakiridou, Cornelia A. ed. 1997. Reviewing Orpheus: essays on the cinema and art of Jean Cocteau. Lewisburg PA: Bucknell University Press.

Notes

  1. Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ kɔkto]








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message