Soixante dessins pour 'Les enfants terribles'
Year:
1935
Author:
Jean Cocteau
1889 to 1963
Artist:
Jean Cocteau
1889 to 1963
Publisher:
Grasset

Jean Cocteau wrote his novel Les enfants terribles (1929) in a seventeen-day stupor during his stay at the Saint-Cloud clinic. While there, he underwent detoxification treatment for opium after the death of his friend Raymond Radiguet. Several years after the publication of this novel, Cocteau produced an album in which he drew sixty-odd scenes from the story. It was published in 1935 under the title Soixante dessins pour 'Les enfants terribles'. The creation of these drawings was as fast and as feverish as that of the unreal story about the obsessive love between a brother and a sister.

Graphic poetry

In the foreword to this edition, Cocteau informs us that the drawings were intended for readers who have done more than just read Les enfants terribles. The readers must also be 'struck' by it, just like protagonist Paul was struck by the snowball thrown by his classmate Dargelos. For as Cocteau pronounces in that very foreword: 'Nothing is more disturbing than the end of a book, the word end that exiles the reader, the cruel abandonment of the characters.' Cocteau considered his novels, plays, films and his drawings poetry, because that is in essence what crosses all limitations. For this reason he described his drawings as 'graphic poetry'.

Vain mannequins

The sixty drawings (of characters and familiar scenes) on Japanese paper were originally drawn in ink and quickly sketched in Cocteau's characteristic profiled perspective as if they were vain mannequins. Besides the reproductions in the book, this deluxe copy on Japanese paper also contains a unique, original pen drawing by Cocteau. This is a sketch illustrating an important passage from the novel in which Elisabeth, as the dominant sister, tries to enhance the weakened Paul's strength of will by offering him a lobster.

Bibliographical description

Description: Soixante dessins pour 'Les enfants terribles' / Jean Cocteau. – Paris : Grasset, 1935. – 61 p.: ill. ; 34 cm
Printer: Imprimerie moderne à Montrouge (Seine)
Edition: 197 copies
This copy: Number 2 of 17 on Japon impérial
Note: With an original drawing by Jean Cocteau
Bibliography: Bénézit 3-744
Shelf-mark: Koopm A 563

References

  • Robin Buss, Cocteau: Les enfants terribles. London, Grant & Cutler, 1986
  • Jean Cocteau, Les enfants terribles. Paris, Fayard, 1931
  • Jean Cocteau, Opium: Journal d'une désintoxication. Paris, Stock, 1930
  • Jean Cocteau et les arts plastiques. Paris, Les musées de la ville de Paris, 1984
  • Patrick Mauriès, Le style Cocteau. Paris, Editions Assouline, 1998

Title page, drawn by Jean Cocteau
Title page, drawn by Jean Cocteau

Title page, drawn by Jean Cocteau

Illustration by Jean Cocteau La Chambre
Illustration by Jean Cocteau 'La Chambre'

Illustration by Jean Cocteau 'La Chambre'

Illustration by Jean Cocteau Paul sembaume
Illustration by Jean Cocteau 'Paul s'embaume'

Illustration by Jean Cocteau 'Paul s'embaume'

Original drawing by Jean Cocteau
Original drawing by Jean Cocteau

Original drawing by Jean Cocteau