Description The Devil in the Flesh de Raymond Radiguet:
An important work of early Modernism--long unavailable in America--now in a stunning new translation
Hailed by Jean Cocteau as a "masterpiece," and by the Guardian as "Bret Easton Ellis's "Less Than Zero," " avant la lettre," this taut tale written by a teenager in the form of a frank "confession" is a gem of early twentieth century romanticism.
Set in Paris during the first World War, it tells the story of Francois, the 16-year-old narrator, who falls in love with Marthe--an older married woman whose husband is off fighting at the Front. What seems to begin as a charming tale of puppy love quickly darkens, and they launch into a steamy affair. In the tense environment of the wartime city, their love takes on a desperation transcending their youthfulness.
And as the badly kept secret of their relationship unfolds, scandal descends when Marthe becomes pregnant, leading the story to a final, tragic conclusion.
RAYMOND RADIGUET was born in 1903 in Saint-Maur, a small town outside Paris. He was the son of a cartoonist, but little else is known about his childhood until, at age 16, he dropped out of school after an affair with the wife of a soldier off fighting in the first World War, to go to Paris. Once there he quickly began writing for the magazine "Sic, "alongside writers such as Louis Aragon and Andre Breton, and he befriended many notable Modernists, including Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. Despite his age, he also quickly developed a reputation for fast living- Ernest Hemingway would later accuse him of sleeping with Cocteau, among others, to advance his career. At the age of 18, after writing a collection of poems that would only be published posthumously, "Les joues en feu," Radiguet moved to a fishing village near Toulon to work on the novel that would become his masterpiece, "The Devil in the Flesh, "which was based on his high school affair. Cocteau would later claim that he'd had to lock Radiguet in his hotel room to keep him from drinking binges rather than writing. The author's youth and the scandalous story made the book a sensation, but Radiguet did not have long to enjoy his fame. Less than a year later, shortly after taking a trip with Cocteau to the country to finish a second novel, "Le Bal du comte d'Orgel, "Radiguet died of typhoid fever at age 20. Composer Francis Poulenc said of his death, "For two days I was unable to do anything, I was so stunned." CHRISTOPHER MONCRIEFF is one of the world's premier French translators. He has translated the work of Gustave Flau- bert, Victor Hugo, and numerous other French masters.