Synopses & Reviews
Despite Jean Cocteaus renown as a leading figure in European cinema, his work and life have rarely been examined together. Evaluating Cocteaus career and his fascinating personal life on equal terms, James Williams offers here a groundbreaking analysis that sets them both within highly revealing historical and artistic contexts.
Williamss biographical investigation of this poet, dramatist, novelist, designer, and filmmaker centers around Cocteaus constant self-questioning and how it permeated his work. From Cocteaus work in fashion and photography to his formal experimentation to his extensive collaborations with male friends and lovers, the book charts the complex and unpredictable evolution of his work and aesthetic. Williams argues that Cocteaus body of work is best viewed as an ethical, erotic project of aesthetics that carries important ramifications for our contemporary understanding of being and subjectivity.
An engaging and wholly accessible account, Jean Cocteau is essential reading for all those fascinated by the man and his unforgettable films.
"Well-written and well-paced . . . A good summation of Cocteau's significance as a gay artist." Richard M. Berrong
“Comprehensive and easily accessible . . . Williams painstakingly crafts a seminal study on the life and art of Jean Cocteau with a flair for language and a scholarly knowledge of his subject.”
The Gay and Lesbian Review
“[A] highly absorbing account of Cocteaus colorful, yet troubled life leaves the reader eager to (re)visit the work of one of the most fascinating artists of the twentieth century.” —French Studies
“This sturdy, compact and fast-moving survey of Cocteaus life and work runs from his precocious false start as a poet in the style of Anna de Noailles, through his reinvention as a radical modernist after inspirational meetings with Diaghilev and Picasso, and the fulfilment of his new ‘life project in his subsequent long career as a poet working in verse, prose, theatre, art and film . . . neatly illustrated and requires no knowledge of French.” —Forum for Modern Language Studies
“Another welcome addition to the still relatively limited critical literature on this important figure . . . this is an approachable and well-illustrated text, which will cause its readers to look at Cocteau in a new and more favorable light, and is an important contribution to the reassessment of the author that is currently under way.” —Modern Language Review
Forum for Modern Language Studies
About the Author
James S. Williams is professor of modern French literature and film at Royal Holloway, University of London and is also author of Jean Cocteau (French Film Directors).
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Living Artist and the Posthumous Work1. Paradise Lived and Lost2. Natural-born Legend3. Prince in Exile4. Russian Lessons5. Cocteau's First War6. The Greatest Battle7. Happy Families8. Genius of France9. A Child Carrying a Cane10. Annus Mirabilis / Annus Miserabilis
11. Lost in the Wilderness12. An Ass Bearing the Lord13. Miracle or Simulacrum?14. Body and Blood of a Poet15. Tripping Across the World16. Enter Apollo17. World War Redux18. No Man's Land19. Club Santo-Sospir20. The Long Haul21. Jean Cocteau is Dead, Long Live Cocteau! ReferencesSelect BibliographyAcknowledgementsPhoto Acknowledgements