Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Jean Cocteau

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau  5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. Cocteau is best known for his novel Les Enfants terribles (1929), and the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946), and Orpheus (1949). Read more on Wikipedia

Maurice Sachs introduced Lowry to Jean Cocteau who gave Lowry tickets to see his latest play La Machine Infernale which opened  10  April  1934 at the Comedie des Champs-Elysees (Louis Jouvet theater) in Paris. The play had a big affect on Lowry because the idea of the universe in the play as an infernal machine and of time as a "folded eternity" "chimed with Lowry's own obsessions - Nordahl Grieg's Moloch of fate and the time theories of J.W. Dunne and Ouspensky." (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 178).

Lowry used a phrase of Cocteau's twice in letters - one to Conrad Aiken 9th April 1940 and to Albert Erskine 5th July 1946 - "Our books detest us". Sherrill Grace has pointed out that Lowry probably got the quote from Julian Green's book Personal Record 1928-1939 rather than Cocteau; Green writes: "This has reminded me of a curious remark which was made by Cocteau in my presence some time ago: "Our books detest us". (Pg. 297).

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