COCTEAU JEAN (1889-1963).

Lot 57
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Estimation :
2000 - 2500 EUR
COCTEAU JEAN (1889-1963).
MANUSCRIT autograph "Jean Cocteau", Paroles en l'air, [1948]; 35 pages in-4 in midnight blue ink and blue ballpoint pen on letterhead of the Maison du Bailli in Milly. Complete manuscript of a lecture on La France et l'esprit français, reused in the Lettre aux Américains. The original title of this lecture, crossed out and replaced by Paroles en l'air, was Réflexions sur la France. It is probable that this lecture, written in 1948 (the date is given on p. 15: "I know that in 1948"...), was written to be delivered in New York, where Cocteau left at the end of December to present his film L'Aigle à deux têtes (The Two-Headed Eagle); on the plane back, during the night of January 12 to 13, 1949, he wrote the Lettre aux Américains (Grasset, 1949), where this lecture is almost entirely reused (p. 92-104 of Volume II of Poésie critique). The text of the conference itself, paginated from 1 to [30], is preceded by 5 unpaginated introductory pages: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Before taking the floor"..., with an indication of a text by Baudelaire to be read in the introduction (not recopied), accompanied by a brief commentary on Baudelaire and Edgar Poe. These pages are a fascinating and brilliant reflection on the singularity of France, crossed by anecdotes, digressions, personal memories. "I know the grievance that one opposes to texts like the one I am reading to you. One reproaches them the lack of gravity. But I fear the air of gravity. I do not believe that a thing can be and have the air of being. I fear the man who wants to be serious by all means and whose blood curdles instead of flowing happily. I like to be exposed. I like that one does not confuse what is serious and what is boring"... From the outset, Cocteau points out what is for him the characteristic trait of his country: "The great French tradition is a tradition of anarchy. It is the most solid of all. Disorder allows France to live as order is indispensable to other peoples. This is why he underlines the dangers of a standardization... Cocteau is deeply French in that he is the man of disorder from which order is born. And this is why it would be impossible for him to work in Hollywood where everything is strictly regulated. He also underlines an aspect of the French character, self-deprecation: "This mania for decrying ourselves, in France, is still one of our secret weapons. If France did not despise its products, it would be the most conceited and unbearable nation". And he recalls that great literary glories were pursued by the police. In these brilliant pages, Diaghilev, Picasso, Eluard, the system of the stars and many other subjects pass by... Etc. Many paragraphs were not included in the Letter to the Americans, and remained unpublished. Provenance : Carole WEISWEILLER. Attached are 2 autograph MANUSCRIPTS [for Reines de la France, 1949]; 1 page in-fol. each in blue ballpoint pen with some erasures and corrections. Two unpublished early versions of the portraits of Joan of Arc and Diane de Poitiers for Reines de la France. [Reines de la France was published in 1949 with illustrations by Christian Bérard (Imprimerie nationale, 1949), then in bookstores by Grasset in 1952, without the illustrations] - "Jeanne is pure because she can only do good, and the good she did every second, she continues to do. Politics escapes her. It is her chance"... - "At court, people used to joke a lot about Diana's age. This fashion was propagated by Catherine. Catherine was the age of the king, in her forties, and aged herself by wearing headdresses in the shape of an owl. Owl who watches, at night, with open eyes, and observes the old mistress"...
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