JOURNALS OF JEAN COCTEAU by Wallace- Ed. & Transl. Fowlie


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The title is a misnomer, for though the material is taken from six of his works, no published work of Cocteau is avowedly a ""journal"", although many have the tone. This is however an interesting compendium of excerpts from Cocteau's writings. It throws light on his often misunderstood character; it literally sheds a floodlight on the artist and artistic atmosphere of France during the '20's, '30's and '40's. For if Cocteau is not strictly speaking one of the major artists of this period, like Gide or Proust or Picasso or Stravinsky, a period is often more clearly revealed by a minor artist than by one of the great figures that dominate it. Discord and turmoil, disharmonies which artists tried to bring into coherency- these are the characteristics that emerge. Cocteau, who was a minor figure in poetry, as a novelist, as a writer of ballets, as artist, dramatist, never ceased intense and ever renewed hope of bringing into focus the warring elements within him. He was a classicist and rebel, a perfectionist and a jack of all trades. He had elements of Oscar Wilde in his brilliance, wit and the deviation of his morals. On this latter score he is vaguely philosophical; the scandals which tormented him are not described. The best of these writings are his pen portraits of contemporaries,- Nijinsky, Picasso, Stravinsky and others. But in the main this will serve not as a definitive biography but a valuable source for students in the field.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1956
Publisher: Criterion Books