Jean Cocteau

Overview

Despite Jean Cocteau’s renown as a leading figure in European cinema, his work and life have rarely been examined together. Evaluating Cocteau’s 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.

Williams’s biographical investigation of this poet, dramatist, novelist, designer, and filmmaker centers around Cocteau’s constant self-questioning ...

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Jean Cocteau

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Overview

Despite Jean Cocteau’s renown as a leading figure in European cinema, his work and life have rarely been examined together. Evaluating Cocteau’s 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.

Williams’s biographical investigation of this poet, dramatist, novelist, designer, and filmmaker centers around Cocteau’s constant self-questioning and how it permeated his work. From Cocteau’s 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 Cocteau’s 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.

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Editorial Reviews

The Gay and Lesbian Review - Richard M. Berrong

"Well-written and well-paced . . . A good summation of Cocteau's significance as a gay artist."
The Gay and Lesbian Review

"Well-written and well-paced . . . A good summation of Cocteau's significance as a gay artist."--The Gay and Lesbian Review

— Richard M. Berrong

Film Matters
“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.”
French Studies

“[A] highly absorbing account of Cocteau’s 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
Forum for Modern Language Studies
  “This sturdy, compact and fast-moving survey of Cocteau’s 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
Modern Language Review
“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
Modern Language Review
“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
“This sturdy, compact and fast-moving survey of Cocteau’s 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
French Studies

“[A] highly absorbing account of Cocteau’s 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

Film Matters
“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.”—Film Matters
From the Publisher
"James S. William's Jean Cocteau is both a welcome new study of the films of a versatile artist and director and a precious addition to Manchester University Press's useful series on French Directors. His study elegantly weaves historical context, biographical element and in—depth analysis of the formal characteristics of Cocteau's films. Williams produces an inspiring study and manages to suggest new paths in the exploration of the artist's unique corpus of film work. This captivating book should thus be of interest to students as well as to specialists in cinematic culture" —Martine Beugnet, Edinburgh University, Jourbanal of Contemporary European Studies
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Product Details

Meet 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).

 

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Living Artist and the Posthumous Work

1. Paradise Lived and Lost

2. Natural-born Legend

3. Prince in Exile

4. Russian Lessons

5. Cocteau's First War

6. The Greatest Battle

7. Happy Families

8. Genius of France

9. A Child Carrying a Cane

10. Annus Mirabilis / Annus Miserabilis

11. Lost in the Wilderness

12. An Ass Bearing the Lord

13. Miracle or Simulacrum?

14. Body and Blood of a Poet

15. Tripping Across the World

16. Enter Apollo

17. World War Redux

18. No Man's Land

19. Club Santo-Sospir

20. The Long Haul

21. Jean Cocteau is Dead, Long Live Cocteau!

 

References

Select Bibliography

Acknowledgements

Photo Acknowledgements

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