Souvenir Portraits: Paris in the Belle Epoque

Souvenir Portraits: Paris in the Belle Epoque

by Jean Cocteau

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Written in 1935, these frothy sketches of Cocteau's boyhood and youth make Paris from 1900 to the outbreak of WW I seem eons distant. Cameos of Isadora Duncan, Colette, Cosima Wagner, Edmond Rostand, Sarah Bernhardt, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mistinguett and others add ballast. In writing about a rebellious school chum, the circus and his parents, the French poet-painter-filmmaker evokes a growing boy's rapt fascination and awe of the adult world. Fifty-seven jaunty, charming drawings by the author accompany the text. One of the book's chief rewards is Cocteau's intoxicating prose, now lyrical (``the moon so crisp it would be naive to see it as anything but a ruin''), now aphoristic (``Fashion dies young, and it is that condemned look that gives it nobility''), literary qualities skillfully evoked in this translation by Browner, who also translated Cocteau's Diary of an Unknown. (June)
Library Journal
``Childhood intoxicated us with uninterrupted spectacle,'' Cocteau writes of his own early years and the early years of the century. Composed for a French newspaper in 1934, these sketches bring pre-World War I Paris to colorful life. There are portraits of such figures as actor Edouard de Max; glimpses of Cocteau's pampered, magical childhood; and evocations of an age in which one might encounter ``ladies out walking with beribboned rabbits on leashes.'' Enlivened by Cocteau's line drawings, these sketches will appeal to readers familiar with the period; notes might have made their sometimes cryptic contents accessible to a wider audience.-- Grove Koger, Boise P.L., Id.

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Da Capo Press
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