Les enfants terribles by Jean Cocteau – a novel
144-page paperback book
Language: English (translated from French by Rosamond Lehmann)
Illustrated with Jean Cocteau’s own drawings
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Printed in the UK
The selection of books in our shop is carefully curated by myself to include some of the best and most poignant, as well as some of the most beautifully written publications in the film world, be it director or actor autobiographies, film retrospectives and essays, as well as some special novels that were adapted to great movies. These will be limited collections, which means that it is possible that when they are gone, they are gone for good.
A brilliant mind and visionary artist, Jean Cocteau thought the heart presided over the intellect. And so it should, shouldn’t it? He often referred to his work – an unequalled variety of artistic expressions, from filmmaking, to theater, sculpting, painting and literature (he even designed sets and ballets) – as poetry, “but not that which relates to verse, but rather a lyrical sensibility rooted in intellectual integrity and hard work”. That kind of poetry, I understand. His films had an ethereal beauty and elegance and he wanted them to appeal through images rather than words.
Jean Cocteau’s novel Les enfants terribles, perhaps his most notorious work, would be adapted for the screen in 1950 by Jean-Pierre Melville, whom Cocteau liked enough to invite him to make the adaptation – “The book entered Melville without a hitch, as though he were its author”, Cocteau would say. The author himself scripted it, as well as providing a voiceover.