Jean Cocteau

[Jean Cocteau]

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau

set text:

Opium: The Diary of a Cure. 1930. Trans. Margaret Crosland and Sinclair Road. 1958. New York: Grove Press, 1980.


Those small hotel rooms in which I have camped for so many years, rooms to make love in, but where I make friends unceasingly, an occupation a thousand times more exhausting than making love.

On leaving Saint-Cloud, I repeated to myself: it is April. I am strong. I have a book which I did not expect. Any room in any hotel will be good. But my death-like room in the rue Bonaparte became a room for death. I had forgotten that opium transfigures the world and that, without opium, a sinister room remains a sinister room.

One of the wonders of opium is to transform instantaneously an unknown room into a room so familiar, so full of memories, that one thinks one has always occupied it. When addicts go away they suffer no hurt because of the certainty that the delicate mechanism will function in one minute, anywhere.

After five pipes an idea would become distorted, diffused slowly in the water of the body with all the noble whims of Chinese ink, fore-shortened like a black diver.

A dressing-gown in holes, stained and burnt by cigarettes, gives the addict away.

An extraordinary photograph in a sensational magazine: the beheading of a Chinese rebel. The execution and the sword are still blurred like an electric fan as it stops. A spray of blood shoots out of the trunk, quite straight. The head, smiling, has fallen on to the rebel's knees, like the smoker's cigarette, without his noticing it.

He will notice it tomorrow by the blood stain, like the addict by the burn.

- Opium: The Diary of a Cure (1980): 44-45.

Select Bibliography:


Le sang d'un poète (The Blood of a Poet) (1930)

L'Eternel Retour (The Eternal Return) (1943)

La belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946)

L'aigle à deux têtes (The Eagle Has Two Heads) (1947)

Les parents terribles (The Storm Within) (1948)

Coriolan (1950) [Never Released]

Orphée (Orpheus) (1950)

La villa Santo-Sospir (1952)

8 X 8: A Chess Sonata in 8 Movements (1957) [Co-director, Experimental]

Le testament d'Orphée (The Testament of Orpheus) (1960)


Le coq et l'arlequin: Notes autour de la musique - avec un portrait de l'Auteur et deux monogrammes par P. Picasso. Paris: Éditions de la Sirène, 1918.

Le Grand écart. 1923, his first novel

Le Numéro Barbette. an influential essay on the nature of art inspired by the performer Barbette, 1926

The Human Voice. translated by Carl Wildman, Vision Press Ltd., Great Britain, 1947.

The Eagle Has Two Heads. adapted by Ronald Duncan, Vision Press Ltd., Great Britain, 1947

The Holy Terrors (Les enfants terribles). translated by Rosamond Lehmann, New Directions Publishing Corp., New York, 1957

The Infernal Machine And Other Plays. translated by W.A. Auden, E.E. Cummings, Dudley Fitts, Albert Bermel, Mary C. Hoeck, and John K. Savacool, New Directions Books, New York, 1963

Toros Muertos. along with Lucien Clergue and Jean Petit, Brussel & Brussel,1966

The Art of Cinema. edited by André Bernard and Claude Gauteur, translated by Robin Buss, Marion Boyars, London, 1988

Diary of an Unknown. translated by Jesse Browner, Paragon House Publishers, New York, 1988

The White Book (Le livre blanc), sometimes translated as The White Paper, translated by Margaret Crosland, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1989.

Les parents terribles. new translation by Jeremy Sams, Nick Hern Books, London, 1994.

Biography & Secondary Literature:

Brown, Frederick. An Impersonation of Angels: A Biography of Jean Cocteau. New York: The Viking Press, 1968.

Steegmuller, Francis. Cocteau: A Biography. Boston: Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1970.

Homepages & Online Information:

Wikipedia entry

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