May 2020

Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau was a 20th century renaissance man who left behind an astonishingly large body of work. He was a poet and novelist, playwright and filmmaker, visual artist and designer. He wrote essays and criticism, was a prolific letter writer, and loved to mingle in elite literary and artistic circles. 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.” The quality of his work, especially the literary work, is very uneven, and if one could eliminate much of what is weaker, his legacy might well be more intact. His films Beauty and the Beast and Orpheus blended avant-garde and fantasy, proving influential for decades to come. We are pleased to present here a significant collection of Cocteau, almost all of it printed, the exception being two letters to his close friend Marlene Dietrich. There are inscribed books, many first editions in English and French, numerous limited editions (including obscure works), and collaborations with famous friends (Picasso) and lovers (Raymond Radiguet and Jean Desbordes). A presentation copy of his seminal book on Opium, containing an original drawing, is a highlight.

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