Happenings and avant garde plays, on and off Broadway, are common today, but they have a partial provenance in the works of Jean Cocteau, the ""enfant terrible"" who startled French audiences as early as the 1920's with the playful, visual symbolism of his dramas, films and poetry. Egocentric, enormously versatile, Cocteau was not only skilled in most art forms (music, acting, painting, choreography, etc.) but also changed his literary style radically from one work to another. This variety and intensity make his works still exciting and contemporary. He also was closely involved with most of the celebrities of his day. Wallace Fowlie, a seasoned critic of French literature, does a solid job of examining the themes of Cocteau's works and tells something of his life. His logical approach doesn't entirely capture the odd, mercurial qualities of Cocteau but it is a useful book, as a guide.