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Jean COCTEAU La danse de Sophocle

Jean COCTEAU

La danse de Sophocle

Mercure de France, Paris 1912, 15x19cm, relié.


First edition, one of 7 numbered copies on Hollande paper, the only large paper copies, this one no. 1, specially printed for Jean Cocteau's mother.
Contemporary vellum Bradel binding by Dupré, gilt date to foot of spine, brown shagreen title label, marbled endpapers and pastedowns, covers and spine preserved. Light worming, principally affecting the margins of some leaves.
A moving and exceptional autograph inscription signed and dated by Jean Cocteau to his mother, in Latin, quoting a verse of Virgils Bucolics: "Incipe, parve puer : cui non risere parentes, nec deus hunc mensa, dea nec dignita cubili est. / Virgile. / Jean", which in English is:  "Realise this, child: the boy at whom his parents never smiled is fit neither to approach the table of the Gods, nor the couch of a Goddess."
A unique copy.
 
With the publication of this third collection of poetry Cocteau, a young prodigy then aged 23, was feted by artistic and literary circles. An intimate of Proust's, a friend of Jacques-Emile Blanche, a follower of Nijinski and Diaghilev and a disciple of Anna de Noailles, his ambition was to unite in his own person all the talents that surrounded him.
The Danse de Sophocle [Dance of Sophocles], a reference to the nude dance that "the young and divine Sophocles" did in Athens after the naval victory at Salamis, reflects the ambition and the exaltation of the young Cocteau: novelist, painter, dancer, poet, he felt truly "fit to approach the table of the Gods."
"As with all the best artists, he was a link between God and Earth." In his biography, Claude Arnaud dedicates a chapter ("The Living God") to the psychology of the poet in this period: "He was a piece torn from God, one of the terrestrial organs through which this Being, constantly evolving, thought about and finally acted to improve his creation."
Thus, Cocteau broke free of his illustrious models and assumed his full artistic divinity, which unfolded in this ecstatic collection, witnessed by the eponymous poem:
 
Thanks to you, dear pride, I wore the halo
Given by the charming god of words...
Thanks to you, I knew the frenetic struggles
in which pen and paper, the dreary pot of ink
Are the ties of verses you want to shout
You want to scream, sing, sigh, laugh...
 And which we must - since they are in us and we feel them -
Let flow like beautiful blood.
 
The inscription to his mother, on the first of seven rare large paper copies, is a witness to Cocteau's only real great influence: Eugénie Cocteau. A mother idolized by her son, she was a profound influence on both the poet's life and his work, marked by the omnipresence of the Oedipal figure. Claude Arnaud describes at length this "filial outpouring coupled with an almost amorous attention...: 'only my love for you is rooted in something real, the rest seems to be a bad dream'."
 
One can hardly miss in this quotation from Virgil the incestuous ambiguity that bound Cocteau to his mother.
 
One of the most desirable provenances for this extremely rare copy. 



8 000 €

Réf : 45274

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