(22 x 17 cm), in black ink on lined paper, brown cloth spine and cardboard covers (spine a little worn).
Conference on avant-garde art and artistic scandals.
Cocteau delivered this lecture at the Université des Annales, February 27, 1925.
The musical accompaniment was provided by Marcelle Meyer and Jean Wiéner. The text was collected in volume IX of the Complete Works (Marguerat).
The manuscript presents erasures and corrections; it is generally written on the front of the leaves, with sometimes developments added on the page opposite. On the title page, pen drawing (sketch of a face in profile).
Cocteau comments in particular on his collaboration with musicians, such as Parade with Érik SATIE, or Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel with the Groupe des Six, evoking STRAVINSKY and Le Sacre du Printemps, or the music of American jazz bands...
Cocteau, who addresses here a young public to which he refuses to give a course, explains that he can only propose his own experience of man of spectacles to reflect on what makes scandal or not, voluntarily or not. Affirming that the true beauty is in itself scandalous because changing unceasingly the rules of the game, he says to seek the laughter with the new beauty which is recognized with its blue glance and which "gives to the worthy souls to face it a delicious nausea, a kind of shock [...] between the dizziness of the love and the death. [Beware of the baroque, the picturesque, the too visible originality which paints the old fabric instead of changing the weft [...].It is a question, after the excesses of a kind of romanticism, of barbarism, succeeding as always, as opposed to the fluttering and soft graces of impressionism, of recreating a new order rich in the teachings of decadence, of impressionist Capua and of the violence that crushed it, and of remaking for our enriched, shaken, brutalized spirit a wise mold without which France could never live, rich in teachings.
Proposing to quote passages from the Cape of Good Hope and Plain-Chant, he warns his listeners against the snobbery that forms around audacity, and which lacks flexibility, because one must be able to applaud Stravinsky, Satie and Gounod at the same time
He then tells how the public welcomed his Antigone mounted at Dullin's in 1922, where the sublime of Sophocles sometimes made a too elegant public laughing at Jean Cocteau. Then he returns to the immense scandal of Parade in 1917: "Some spectators came to blows. I was crossing the corridors with Apollinaire to join Picasso and Satie who were waiting for me in a dressing room when a fat singer recognized me. [...] She threw herself on me to gouge my eyes out, brandishing a hatpin. The husband of this Bacchante and Guillaume Apollinaire had all the trouble in the world to save me". Having quoted the reflection of a spectator: "If I had known that it was so stupid, I would have brought the children", Cocteau continues: "This gentleman had no idea that it is precisely the childlike glance that modern audiences lack and that by dint of wanting to be treated like grown-ups, these audiences can only stand boredom. Three years later, the revival of Parade was a triumph. We had to come back to greet Satie, Picasso and myself after 12 encores at the edge of a box. The same people who wanted us dead in 1917, in 1920, applauded us standing. [...] The orchestra of Parade is a return to simplicity, to clarity. This is its real scandal. In 1917 we booed before we heard and our judges took the noise they made for that of the music. In 1920 we listened". Then he evokes the first scandal he attended, that of the Rite of Spring in 1913, which became a classic. As for Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel, he did not think about the scandal: "My only concern is to replace poetry in the theater by a poetry of theater. It's just the opposite. Poetry in the theater is like presenting a fine lace at a distance. Poetry in the theater would be a cable guipure, a big guipure that can be seen from afar"...
He tells his discovery and his love of jazz, before evoking to finish the history of "a saint, a man who is with Picasso my master of wisdom", Erik SATIE, whose life and work he traces...
Attached : Le Cap de Bonne Espérance, poem (Éditions de la Sirène, Paris, December 1918) ; in-8 square, paperback, filled cover. First edition, printed at 510 copies, one of 500 copies on papier bouffant (n°253), in perfect condition.