• My Contemporaries

Jean Cocteau's personal reminiscences and drawings of his esteemed contemporaries from a generation of avant-garde cultural figures.

For almost fifty years up until his death in 1963, Jean Cocteau held a unique place in French cultural life. The breadth of his artistic success bears witness to the astounding variety of his talents. In the fields of theatre, cinema, art, ballet and literature Cocteau made many life-long friends. Intimate portraits of some of the greatest artists of his age are included in this memorable memoir. Jean Cocteau was drawn to larger-than-life or seemingly unreal characters. He believed that their unreality was often the clue to the secrets of their personality. In descriptions of his contemporaries, Cocteau is able to illustrate everything that is accessible, sympathetic, memorable, durable, all-pervading or dazzling about them. Ranging from the moving and atmospheric (the dying Proust in his cork-lined chamber) to the hilariously camp (Colette being carried from her apartment by sedan chair to have lunch across the road), it is in these portraits that the essence of his own work can be found.

The portraits include Proust, Picasso, Piaf, Colette, Chaplin and many more.

Translated from the french and edited by Margaret Crosland.
'Delightful reading, brilliant, witty, chic and profound. Colette, Piaf, Sachs, Proust, Appollinaire et al are presented for a few brief moments like characters coming to life at the footlights' – Irish Times
'This little haystack of a book contains quite a number of needles . . . in their unstudied extravagant way they vividly recreate the personal and artistic presences of Cocteau's monstres sacres' – Scotsman
'Attractive, approachable . . . Everything is light, easy, and, for all that, penetrating. The showman, showing others, shows himself' Times Literary Supplement


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 11th January 2008
ISBN Number 9780720612585
Pages 144

My Contemporaries

  • £9.99


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Tags: Jean Cocteau, Paris, France, avant-garde, Margaret Crosland, cocteau, french literature, LGBT, biography, nonfiction, non-fiction, art