• Thomas The Impostor


Thomas the Impostor is set at the outbreak of the First World War and is based on Jean Cocteau's experiences in the Red Cross on the Western Front.

This is not, however, your typical World War One narrative but a fascinating example of war writing from a quintessentially artistic imagination. Guillaume Thomas is a boy too young to join the army but determined to get to the front at any cost. He is aided by the magnificent Princesse de Borme, who uses her energy, influence and allure to put together a chaotic ambulance convoy to help wounded soldiers. Together they travel all over France until Guillaume finally gets his wish and joins a company of soldiers …

It may come a surprise to some that Jean Cocteau actually fought in the First World War but Thomas the Impostor is his idiosyncratic response to the author’s own experiences at the front. Illustrated by Cocteau’s piercing ink drawings, the narrative is punctuated by typically Cocteauesque flights of fancy that make the book an intriguing mix of realism and fantasy and also an excellent introduction to the writing of Jean Cocteau.

Translated from the French by Dorothy Williams


JEAN COCTEAU was born in 1889 in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, a village near Paris. He is regarded as one of France’s greatest men of letters. A multi-faceted talent, he achieved distinction as a poet, playwright and critic, as well as an artist, illustrator, composer, actor and film-maker. Among his best known novels are Les Enfants Terribles, Thomas the Impostor and The Miscreant. He died in 1963.

Bibliographic Data
Date Published 2nd August 2002
ISBN Number 9780720612523
Pages 144

Thomas The Impostor

  • £8.95


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Tags: avant-garde, France, Paris, First World War, French Literature, Early Twentieth Century Literature, Picaresque