Tag Archives: poets

Jean Cocteau

In July we celebrate the birthday of Jean Cocteau – a French poet, novelist, dramatist and filmmaker.  His circle of friends and lovers included Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, María Félix, Édith Piaf and Raymond Radiguet. Edith Wharton described him as a man “to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundation of the Heavenly City…”

According to Harold Ackton, at the age of 18 Cocteau “took the pulse of each of the nine muses and prescribed the exact regimen she had to follow.
He published his first volume of poems, Aladdin’s Lamp, at nineteen. Soon Cocteau became known in the Bohemian  artistic circles as ‘The Frivolous Prince’—the title of a volume he published at twenty-two.

Cocteau’s unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim. His opium addition  – and reputation for seducing Parisian gendarmes with a faked, drunken “privelege du cape” at the legendary Paris pissoirs – make for controversial biographies, such as that by Francis Steegmuller.

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