COCTEAU JEAN (1889-1963).

Lot 59
Go to lot
Estimation :
3000 - 4000 EUR
COCTEAU JEAN (1889-1963).
AUTOGRAPHIC MANUSCRIT, Le Chiffre sept, 1952; 18 pages in-4 or in-8, and 30 oblong pages in-fol. of a spiral-bound sketchbook. First draft, and cleaned up manuscript of this long poem. It was at the request of Pierre Seghers that Cocteau wrote Le Chiffre sept, as he indicates in a notice for a reprint: "I had been thinking of writing this poem for a very long time, or at least, to be more exact, that this poem made me think of writing it. Wanted to be written. A poet is only the vehicle of forces that he contains and that he does not know or knows badly. As I had proposed to Pierre Seghers to publish some articles of mine, he told me that he would prefer to publish a long poem of mine. It is the first time, I imagine, that a publisher asks a poet for a poem. It was, no doubt, the surprise of this offer that opened the door to Le Chiffre Sept. This poem has one hundred stanzas. It is opposed to the poems of goldsmithery. It is the example of a night that wants, at all costs, to come out into the daylight." The poem was published in 1952 by Pierre Seghers, with a lithograph by Cocteau on the cover. "Aware of approaching the death he is preparing to enter, Cocteau addresses the living who will remain behind him and tries to make them finally understand what death is, and that they will die not only individually, but collectively [... A poem full of violence and black humor, a poem where bitterness ceases to be personal and becomes that of the prophet who leans over humanity and adjures it before cursing it, Le Chiffre sept, which clearly refers to the Apocalypse, announces the final enlargement of the poet's vision" (Jacques Brosse). A. Manuscript of first draft. It is dated at the end "August 10, 1952". It counts 18 pages on 17 sheets in-4 (and in-8 for two of them), filled with a tiny writing in pencil and blue ballpoint pen. These pages constitute the first version of the poem, numbering 92 quatrains, and including numerous erasures and corrections. B. Final manuscript. It is set down in a large spiral-bound sketchbook (27 x 35 cm), with a brown cover (label of the stationery shop L. Rontani in Nice), used widthwise. It is dated at the end "St Jean Cap Ferrat 12 August 1952". This notebook constitutes the quasi final state of the poem, Cocteau having still brought some corrections on the typescript. It includes a title page Le chiffre sept, and 30 pages numbered from 1 to 26; at the end of the notebook (f. 24), Cocteau used the notebook head to tail, p. 25 being on the v° of f. 23, and 26 on the v° of 22. The pages [27-30] are in a row, not numbered. With the exception of one stanza in blue ballpoint and a few corrections in blue pen and pencil, all these pages are in blue ink. This booklet offers the text of the entire poem, enhanced by an additional stanza, and with 114 words or passages crossed out, corrected or added. The beginning of the poem (p. 1) is titled: Fanfare of Killing. At the end of page 25 and on page 26, 4 stanzas are entirely crossed out, as well as the date "St Jean Cap Ferrat, 10 August 1952". Pages 27 to 30 contain 9 additional stanzas and the final date of August 12. The cover of the notebook bears in the upper right corner the title with a variant: "Le Chiffre sept ou Soirée d'adieux. Poem", and in the upper left corner: "100 strophes". This manuscript was offered by Jean Cocteau to his friend Francine Weisweiller, as a Christmas present on December 25, 1952 (le Passé défini, I, p. 406). Provenance : Carole WEISWEILLER.
My orders
Sale information
Sales conditions
Return to catalogue