Jean Cocteau

(5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963 / Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines)

Jean Cocteau
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Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. Cocteau is best known for his novel Les Enfants terribles (1929), and the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946), and Orpheus (1949). His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María Félix, Édith Piaf and Raymond Radiguet.

Early Life

Cocteau was born in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, a village near Paris, to Georges Cocteau and his wife, Eugénie Lecomte; a socially prominent Parisian ... more »

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  • ''Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 5 (1948). Anubis, in The Infernal Machine, act 2 (1932).
  • ''Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. Dessins (1924), quoted in Pierre Chanel, "A Thousand Flashes of Genius," Jean Cocteau and the Fren...
  • ''One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. "Du Rêve," La Difficulté d'Etre (1947).
  • ''A film is a petrified fountain of thought.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. Esquire (New York, Feb. 1961).
  • ''When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. (Originally published 1918). Le Coq et l'Arlequin, Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926), repr. In Collected ...
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Best Poem of Jean Cocteau

Preamble (A Rough Draft For An Ars Poetica)


A rough draft
for an ars poetica

. . . . . . .

Let's get our dreams unstuck

The grain of rye
free from the prattle of grass
et loin de arbres orateurs




It will sprout

But forget about
the rustic festivities

For the explosive word
falls harmlessly
eternal through
the compact generations

and except for you


its sweet-scented dynamite

I discard eloquence
the empty ...

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