Lot n° 51
1000 - 1500
Result with fees
COCTEAU JEAN (1889-1963).
L.A.S. "Jean Cocteau" and 7 L.A.
(minutes, some signed), ; 22 pages in-4 or in-8.
Nice set on the threat of prohibition of his play Les Parents terribles by La Ville de Paris.
[Created on November 14, 1938 at
Ambassadeurs, the play Les Parents terribles provoked a polemic, a certain press denouncing it as an apology of incest.
The City Council of Paris threatened to ban the performances, as the City was partly in charge of the theater. On January 4, 1939, the play will be transported to the Bouffes-Parisiens, winning a great success]
- Message to his actors, or appeal to the people of the theater and to the public: "I have always worked for you. You have always fought for me.
We form a common cause. When, in spite of your masters, the city council decides that my play is dangerous, not only does it deliberately err and wait for the freedom of the theater, but it also takes you for fools. This scandal is the first bell of a shameful offensive and that would suppress, originally and en bloc the work of our Classics. They have all known these hypocritical obstacles and they survive. [...] I accept, if it is necessary, a tribunal that will judge the dangers that Les Parents terribles represent for the youth. [...]
If our time judges immoral a play which treats of all the noble and eternal feelings, it is because we are threatened with a censorship and with the great method which consists in obtaining the equality by the bottom"...
- Drafts of letters of Jean Cocteau intended for various authorities of which the President of the City council of Paris, the Prefect of Police and the City council of the City of Paris, even the President of The Republic.
"The City Council has just covered itself in shame and ridicule. [...] By what right, I ask, do forty-seven uneducated gentlemen dare to take, with respect to the youth of the schools, measures that should only be taken by their teachers?
In a crossed-out postscript, Cocteau reacts to the "police threats" made against him: "For thirty years, I have lived in a glass house. If I do terrible things, I shout them from the rooftops, I only ask for a scandal that would allow me to express myself in broad daylight"... - To the President of the City Council. "I no longer hesitate to address myself to your high authority to complain, not that they are taking away the theater where I will not stay under any pretext (all the directors of Paris having offered me their halls), but of an insult and an injustice likely to compromise my work and the French Letters abroad. The City Council has decreed, without knowing my play, that it was pornographic. [...] I apologize, Mr. President, for making you judge such a scandal, but it overwhelms me and risks putting France among the countries that burn the works that honor them"... - To
President of the City Council of Paris: "It would be serious if France became one of those countries that burns books and chases artists in the name of a false morality. [...] A play is an action. It can be neither a good nor a bad action. The centuries prove it"... - Open letter to Les Heures de Paris (which published it on December 29, 1938).
"I hate the mud and I refuse to continue to move in it". He leaves the Ambassadeurs for the Bouffes... "To say that my play is pornographic is odious. [...] I rise against these maneuvers because of the danger they represent for the future of letters.
It is unbearable to imagine a France that would burn books and chase away artists in the name of hypocritical ignorance"... -Open letter to Henry Bernstein : "Our friendship cannot be touched. [...] You love and covet the Ambassadors. Take them.
I will go anywhere to carry my wagon.
[...] I am going, joyfully, to a real theater, a theater in the style of the Vaudeville and the Gymnase, a theater where I learned to admire you, where the Secret gave me the example of your secrets"... Henry's answer is attached
BERNSTEIN (L.S., December 28, 1938). - Note for the press (on the back of the typing of the open letter to Bernstein): "To speak about me is not to speak about me anymore - the question has singularly widened - France and the countries of censorship. [...] I accept only one tribunal, that of each evening, the packed room which acclaims my artists"...
An autograph copy of excerpts from articles (1 p. in-4 on the letterhead of the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs); and the corrected typescript of a manifesto to the Students (3 p. in-4) are attached.
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