Past Tense: Diaries

Jean Cocteau, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $19.95 (2p) ISBN 978-0-15-171289-2
Covering 1951-1952, this first publication in English of part of Cocteau's diaries chronicles what he was reading and writing; his activities as a poet, playwright, painter, filmmaker, designer of mosaics and tapestries; the people he saw (Colette in a wheelchair, Garbo in a restaurant, Matisse receiving acupuncture in bed) and those he dined with (Picasso and Stravinsky, the two men who had the greatest influence on him). Overwhelmed by requests, suffering constantly from an inflamed hand, Cocteau worked on a play (Bacchus, an oratorio text for Hindemith and drawings for Radiguet's novels, and traveled to Germany, Greece and Vienna. He comments on the abdication of King Farouk, lauds the novels of Dumas, criticizes Sartre's book on Genet (""The last chapters sink into a disgusting mud''), evaluates Maugham's success (it ``comes from the fact that he writes on the level of the public. Nothing underneath. Nothing behind''), castigates Chagall and Soutine (``There is a collective hypnosis here and a taste for a certain `subjective' scribbling''). His long reflections on Proust alone make the diary worth reading. First serial to the New York Times Book Review. (February 2)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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