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Jean Cocteau

Biography

Jean Cocteau was born in 1889 in Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris. His father lived off the earnings of his properties but killed himself when Cocteau was nine. Cocteau was not academically successful, twice failing his baccalauréat. However, he started writing poetry at a young age and, by the time he was twenty, knew many people in the French artistic world, including Diaghilev. He was present at the famous performance of the Rite of Spring. During World War I, he became an ambulance driver but also worked with Diaghilev and Picasso on a production of a ballet of Satie’s Parade. It was also at this time that he became involved with The Six, a group of young composers, which also involved Satie and which looked to Cocteau for artistic leadership. Though he had a girlfriend, Cocteau now became involved with the fifteen year old Raymond Radiguet. They had a stormy relationship, not least because Radiguet preferred women. When Radiguet died in 1923 at the age of twenty, Cocteau was so distraught that he turned to opium for solace. His use of opium inspired several of his works, including Les Enfants terribles (The Holy Terrors (US); Children of the Game (UK); Les enfants terribles).

After drug rehabilitation in 1925, he turned to writing plays but also published Les Enfants terribles (The Holy Terrors (US); Children of the Game (UK); Les enfants terribles) to great acclaim. He also started his cinema career, with the film Le Sang d’un Poète (Blood of a Poet. He had an affair with Nathalie Paley, granddaughter of Tsar Alexander II and, later, a film actress. When she became pregnant, the Viscountess of Noailles, a former lover of Cocteau and jealous, helped her abort the fetus, to Cocteau’s chagrin. However, the love of his life was the film actor Jean Marais, who appeared in his film of La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast). Cocteau continued producing poetry, novels, plays, films, paintings, drawings and drama as well as designing for the theatre and ballet. He died in 1963. He will be remembered for producing an astonishing body of work in a variety of media, for having influenced many of the major artists based in Paris during the middle part of the twentieth century and for having been a central part of French and European culture for many years.

Books about Jean Cocteau

Daniel Abadie: Jean Cocteau and the French Scene
Arthur King Peters: Jean Cocteau and His World
Francis Steegmuller: Cocteau: A Biography

Other sites

Jean Cocteau (official site)
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau (mainly about his church art)
Jean Cocteau and André Gide
Jean Cocteau (gallery of his art works)
The drawings of Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau (includes gallery of his artwork)
Chapelle Cocteau – Chapel Notre-Dame-de-Jérusalem (the chapel that he painted)
Interview
Jean Cocteau – official site (in French)
Jean Cocteau (in French)
Jean Cocteau (in French)
Biographie de Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) (in French)
Musée Jean Cocteau de Menton (in French)
About his house at Milly-la-Forêt (in French)

Bibliography

1909 La lampe d’Aladin (poetry)
1910 Le prince frivole (poetry)
1912 La danse de Sophocle (poetry)
1918 Le Cap de Bonne-Espérance (poetry)
1918 Le coq et l’arlequin (Cock and Harlequin) (non-fiction)
1919 Le Potomak (novel)
1919 L’Ode à Picasso (poetry)
1920 Poésies 1917-1920 (poetry)
1921 La noce massacrée (souvenirs) : 1. Visites à Maurice Barrès (memoirs)
1922 Vocabulaire (poetry)
1923 Dessins (Drawings) (art)
1923 Le Grand écart (The Miscreant; The Grand Écart) (novel)
1923 Plain-chant (poetry)
1923 Thomas l’imposteur (The Imposter) (novel)
1925 Cri écrit (poetry)
1925 Le mystère de Jean l’oiseleur (art)
1925 Prière mutilée (poetry)
1925 Le Secret professionnel (Professional Secrets)
1926 L’Ange Heurtebise (poetry)
1926 Le rappel à l’ordre (Le Coq et l’Arlequin Carte blanche Visites à Barrès – Le Secret professionnel D’un ordre considéré comme une anarchie Autour de Thomas l’imposteur – Picasso) (A Call to Order) (non-fiction)
1926 Lettre à Jacques Maritain (Art and Faith, Letters Between Jacques Maritain and Jean Cocteau) (non-fiction)
1926 Maison de santé (art)
1926 Orphée (Orphée; Orpheus) (drama)
1927 Opéra (poetry)
1927 Poésie plastique (art)
1928 25 dessins d’un dormeur (art)
1928 Le livre blanc (The White Book) (novel)
1928 Oedipe roi (Oedipus Rex) Roméo et Juliette (drama)
1928 Le Mystère laïc (non-fiction)
1929 Les Enfants terribles (Children of the Game (UK); The Holy Terrors (US); Les enfants terribles) (novel)
1929 Une entrevue sur la critique (non-fiction)
1930 La Voix humaine (The Human Voice) (drama)
1930 Opium (Opium : The Illustrated Diary of His Cure) (non-fiction)
1932 Essai de critique indirecte (Le Mystère laïc Des beaux-arts considérés comme un assassinat) (non-fiction)
1932 Morceaux choisis, poèmes, 1926-1932 (poetry)
1934 La machine infernale (The Infernal Machine) (drama)
1934 Mythologie, avec Giorgio de Chirico (poetry)
1935 Portraits-Souvenir (Paris Album; Souvenir portraits : Paris in the Belle-Epoque) (non-fiction)
1935 Soixante dessins pour les Enfants terribles (art)
1937 Mon premier voyage (Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) (My Journey Round The World; Round the World Again in 80 Days) (non-fiction)
1939 Énigme (poetry)
1940 La Fin du Potomak (novel)
1941 Allégories (poetry)
1941 Dessins en marge du texte des Chevaliers de la table ronde (art)
1943 Le Greco (non-fiction)
1944 Poèmes écrits en allemand (poetry)
1945 Léone (poetry)
1946 La belle et la bête, Journal d’un film (Diary of a Film) (non-fiction)
1946 La crucifixion (The Crucifixion) (poetry)
1947 La difficulté d’être (The Difficulty of Being) (non-fiction)
1947 Le foyer des artistes (non-fiction)
1947 Les deux travestis (novel)
1948 Drôle de ménage (art)
1948 Poèmes (poetry)
1948 Reines de la France (non-fiction)
1948 Théâtre I: Antigone – Les Mariés de la tour Eiffel – Les Chevaliers de la table ronde (The Knights of the Round Table) – Les Parents terribles (Les parents terribles) (drama)
1948 Théâtre II: Les Monstres sacrés – La Machine à écrire (The Typewriter) – Renaud et Armide – L’Aigle à deux têtes (The Eagle Has Two Heads) (drama)
1949 Dufy (non-fiction)
1949 Lettre aux Américains (non-fiction)
1949 Théâtre de poche (drama)
1950 Orphée (Orpheus) (screenplay)
1950 Maalesh, Journal d’une tournée de théâtre (Maalesh: A Theatrical Tour in the Middle-East) (non-fiction)
1951 Anthologie poétique de Jean Cocteau (poetry)
1951 Jean Marais (non-fiction)
1952 Bacchus (drama)
1952 Gide vivant (non-fiction)
1952 Journal d’un inconnu (The Hand of a Stranger) (non-fiction)
1952 La nappe du Catalan with Georges Hugnet (poetry)
1952 Le chiffre sept (poetry)
1953 Appogiatures (Grace Notes) (poetry)
1953 Démarche d’un poète (non-fiction)
1953 Dentelle d’éternité (poetry)
1954 Clair-obscur (poetry)
1955 Colette, Discours de réception à l’Académie royale de Belgique (non-fiction)
1955 Discours de réception à l’Académie française (non-fiction)
1956 Le discours d’Oxford (non-fiction)
1956 Poèmes, 1916-1955 (poetry)
1956 The Journals of Jean Cocteau (non-fiction)
1957 Entretiens sur le musée de Dresde, avec Louis Aragon (Conversations on the Dresden Gallery) (non-fiction)
1957 La chapelle Saint-Pierre, Villefranche-sur-mer (art)
1957 La corrida du 1er mai (non-fiction)
1957 Le sang d’un poète (The Blood of a Poet) (screenplay)
1957 La salle des mariages, Hôtel de ville de Menton (art)
1958 La Chapelle Saint-Pierre (art)
1958 Paraprosodies précédées de 7 dialogues (poetry)
1959 Gondole des morts (poetry)
1959 Poésie critique I et II (non-fiction)
1960 Nouveau théâtre de poche (drama)
1960 Notes sur Le testament d’Orphée (film)
1960 Saint-Blaise-des-simples (art)
1961 Five Plays (drama)
1961 Le testament d’Orphée (The Testament of Orpheus) (screenplay)
1961 Cérémonial espagnol du phénix, suivi de La partie d’échecs (poetry)
1961 Petits maîtres de la folie (non-fiction)
1962 Le cordon ombilical (non-fiction)
1962 Le Requiem (poetry)
1962 L’Impromptu du Palais-Royal (drama)
1962 Picasso, 1916-1961 (non-fiction)
1963 Entretiens avec André Fraigneau (non-fiction)
1963 Jean Cocteau par Jean Cocteau, Entretiens avec William Fifield (non-fiction)
1963 Jean Cocteau, Anna de Noailles, Correspondance, 1911-1931 (non-fiction)
1963 Journal, 1942-1945, établi et annoté par Jean Touzot (non-fiction)
1963 La comtesse de Noailles, oui et non (non-fiction)
1963 Le passé défini I 1951-1952; II – 1953; III – 1954 (Past Tense) (non-fiction)
1963 Lettres à sa mere I 1898-1918; II 1919-1938 (non-fiction)
1963 Poésie de journalisme, 1935-1938 (non-fiction)
1967 Entre Picasso et Radiguet (non-fiction)
1968 Paul et Virginie (with Raymond Radiguet – drama)
1968 Faire-part (poetry)
1971 Le gendarme incompris (with Raymond Radiguet – drama)
1975 La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) (screenplay)
1975 Lettres à Milorad (letters)
1979 Mes monstres sacrés (non-fiction)
1989 Lettres de l’Oiseleur (non-fiction)
1989 Une encre de lumière (selected prose)
1992 Tempest of Stars : Selected Poems (poetry)
1993 Simple est un miracle : lettres de Jean Cocteau à Pierre Duflo (1928-1929) (letters)
1994 Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel (libretto)
1995 Chronique d’une amitié : lettres, textes et dessins inédits de Jean Cocteau, 1949-1962 (non-fiction)
1998 Ils : dessins érotiques de Jean Cocteau (art)
2000 Photographies et dessins de guerre (non-fiction)
2001 Sur la poésie (non-fiction)
2001 Cortège de la désobéissance (art)
2003 Le théâtre de la rue (non-fiction)
2003 Du cinématographe (The Art of Cinema) (non-fiction)
2003 Entretiens sur le cinématographe (Cocteau on the Film) (non-fiction)
2004 Madame Rumilly (non-fiction)
2005 Un rêve de Mallarmé (non-fiction)