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19 November 1992
... Scruffy cyclist in black track shorts with shammy-leather internal arse patch designed and executed by mother, I once saw JeanCocteau. Something was going on in a bank, or a place like that on the Riviera – I think it was Menton. We were inquisitive and looked through a narrow opening, and there he was, saying something to his ...


Anne Stillman: Jean Cocteau

12 July 2017
Jean CocteauA Life 
by Claude Arnaud, translated by Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell.
Yale, 1024 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 0 300 17057 3
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... JeanCocteau​ had a genius for being seen. As an elegant young man, with the cult poet Anna de Noailles on his arm, thanks to an introduction from Proust, he danced the polka at the Bastille Day ball in 1912 ...


Philip Booth

30 December 1982
Stravinsky Seen and Heard 
by Hans Keller and Milein Cosman.
Toccata Press, 127 pp., £5.95, March 1982, 0 907689 01 9
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Nadia Boulanger: A Life in Music 
by Léonie Rosenstiel.
Norton, 427 pp., £16.95, October 1982, 0 393 01495 9
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... as a younger man), and thus lend support to some of Keller’s psychological hypotheses. This physical attitude is all the more noticeable for its juxtaposition here with the crisp, refined figure of JeanCocteau, a contrast which justifies Cocteau’s inclusion amongst the sketches far more compellingly than Cosman’s practical explanation that he was involved in a performance of Oedipus Rex. There ...
20 January 2000
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... knows about – everyone. For example (on page 118, to be precise), Marie-Laure (1), Maurice Bischoffsheim (2), the Comtesse de Chevigné (3), the Duchesse de Guermantes (4), the Marquis de Sade (5), JeanCocteau (6), the Vicomte de Noailles (7), an anonymous gym instructor (8), Igor Markevitch (9), Diaghilev (10), Nijinsky (11), Maurice Gendron (12): I was the daughter of 2, an immensely rich Belgian ...

Bon Viveur in Cuban Heels

Julian Bell: Picasso

3 January 2008
A Life of Picasso. Vol. III: The Triumphant Years 1917-32 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 592 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 224 03121 9
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... in 1917, the rackety Bateau Lavoir with its mildew and mayhem has been left far behind, and the artist is checking into a grand hotel in Rome along with his new friend, the foppish, snobbish young JeanCocteau. They are collaborating on Parade, a Ballets Russes production with a decor meant to ‘reassure the public that far from being pro-German or pro-Bolshevik or a fumiste, Picasso was not an ...


Michael Wood

17 December 1992
The Art of Cinema 
by Jean Cocteau, André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss.
Marion Boyars, 224 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 7145 2947 8
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Jean​ Renoir: A Life in Pictures 
by Célia Bertin, translated by Mireille Muellner and Leonard Muellner.
Johns Hopkins, 403 pp., £20.50, August 1991, 0 8018 4184 4
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Jean​ Renoir: Projections of Paradise 
by Ronald Bergan.
Bloomsbury, 378 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 7475 0837 2
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Malle on Malle 
edited by Philip French.
Faber, 236 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 571 16237 1
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Republic of Images: A History of French Film-Making 
by Alan Williams.
Harvard, 458 pp., £39.95, April 1992, 0 674 76267 3
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... are prisoners-of-war in a camp commanded by the courtly Erich von Stroheim. One of them, an aristocrat played by Pierre Fresnay, creates a diversion to cover the escape of the other two, played by Jean Gabin and Marcel Dalio, working-class and Jewish respectively. It all sounds rather stark and allegorical in description, and Communist viewers in the Thirties were keen to see this arrangement as ...
5 December 1991
With and Without Buttons 
by Mary Butts, edited by Nathalie Blondel.
Carcanet, 216 pp., £13.95, October 1991, 0 85635 944 0
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... her time travelling round Europe, and for many years more or less settled in Paris. A list of her friends, lovers and associates during these two decades is impressive. Man Ray photographed her, JeanCocteau sketched her, Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot praised her work, Aleister Crowley exploited it. In the Twenties Harold Acton came across her in Paris, not exactly among ‘the bevies of truculent ...

Who, me?

Philip Purser

3 December 1992
The Sieve of Time: Memoirs 
by Leni Riefenstahl.
Quartet, 669 pp., £30, September 1992, 0 7043 7021 2
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... studies, notably of the Nuba people in Sudan. At 71 she qualified as a scuba diver and added underwater photography to her portfolio. She has never been short of professional admirers. JeanCocteau and John Grierson are fulsome in their praise. Mick Jagger tells her he has seen some of her films 15 times. Nor, of course, does she lack detractors; the fiercest in recent years has been Susan ...

Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts

4 March 1982
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... element in it, and hostility, at times implicit, at times explicit, to the hegemony of Rome. A glance at the list makes the authors’ initial scepticism intelligible enough. The first name is Jean de Gisons (1188-1220), the last JeanCocteau; those listed are either aristocrats of the House of Lorraine (among whose ancestors are numbered Godfroi de Bouillon, the conqueror of Jerusalem, and the ...

Earthworm on Zither

Paul Grimstad: Raymond Roussel

26 April 2012
Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey, 280 pp., £10.99, June 2011, 978 1 56478 624 1
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New Impressions of Africa 
by Raymond Roussel, translated by Mark Ford.
Princeton, 264 pp., £16.95, April 2011, 978 0 691 14459 7
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... he’d written resignedly that he still hoped for a ‘little posthumous fame for my books’, Roussel was found dead on the floor of a Palermo hotel room from an overdose of the barbiturate Soneryl. JeanCocteau, who got to know him a few years earlier in a rehab clinic at Saint-Cloud (and who remembered Roussel asking him wearily: ‘Why aren’t I as famous as Pierre Loti?’), wrote Roussel’s ...

Champion of Words

John Sturrock

15 October 1987
Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Charles Ruas.
Athlone, 186 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 0 485 11336 8
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Raymond Roussel: Life, Death and Works. Essays and stories by various hands 
Atlas, 157 pp., £5.50, September 1987, 0 947757 14 7Show More
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... in such a way that until the pages were cut only Roussel’s parts, the poetry, showed. Roussel continued in these years to be treated by doctors. In 1928, he was in the same maison de santé as JeanCocteau, then being got off opium. Cocteau noticed, as others had, how like Proust Roussel was – in voice, in physique and in nervousness. Roussel, on the other hand, spoilt the comparison by ...

You see stars

Michael Wood

19 June 1997
The House of Sleep 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 384 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 670 86458 7
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... found the novel it was hiding from. This book is a brilliantly sustained spoof of many things: old film comedies, old detective stories, old chatty novels, stage farces – not everyone would connect JeanCocteau with Sid James and Kenneth Connor. But it is above all a novel of the Thatcher years, satirically seen as the reign of a particular mentality, easily identified, but not so easily defined ...

What’s the story?

Audrey Gillan: Trying to find the evidence for mass atrocities in Kosovo

27 May 1999
... something not right in this easy way with detail. It is a surreal place, Macedonia, and it was this aspect to which a friend drew my attention when I got home. Nobody much wants to return to JeanCocteau, but there was something soothing in the words my friend quoted. ‘History is a combination of reality and lies,’ he said. ‘The reality of history becomes a lie. The reality of the fable ...
12 March 1992
Will this do? 
by Auberon Waugh.
Century, 288 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7126 3734 6
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Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper 
edited by Artemis Cooper.
Hodder, 344 pp., £19.99, October 1991, 0 340 53488 5
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... may or may not have been a great athlete, a fascist and a spy – ‘I don’t know if he was pro-German or pretending to be pro-German,’ Ingrams says. He may even have been put in a novel by JeanCocteau, ‘as the archetype of the dashing English gentle-man’. Whatever he was, he died at the age of 53, and Ingrams ‘has just passed that age himself’. It has been observed that when a son gets to ...

Killing Stripes

Christopher Turner: Suits

31 May 2017
Sex and Suits: The Evolution of Modern Dress 
by Anne Hollander.
Bloomsbury, reissue, 158 pp., £19.99, August 2016, 978 1 4742 5065 8
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The Suit: Form, Function and Style 
by Christopher Breward.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £18, May 2016, 978 1 78023 523 3
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... of the elaborate metallic brocades with which their heraldic costumes were decorated. Charles Dickens, Henry James, Bram Stoker, Ulysses S. Grant, Toulouse-Lautrec, Lillie Langtry, Robert Mitchum and JeanCocteau were also on the books. Some of their accounts are closed, crossed out with lines of red ink and marked ‘Dead’. Grand Duke Sergei of Russia’s reads ‘Assassinated’. A ‘Sundry ...

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