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Plain Song and Angel Heurtebise
Series No.: 216
ISBN: 978-1-55713-008-2, Pages: 84
French Literature, Poetry
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Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) was one of the most influential artists of the French Surrealist avant-garde, best known for films like The Blood of a Poet (1930), Beauty and the Beast (1946), and Orpheus (1950).
At 30, he wrote the long poem Plain Song (1923) about his love for Raymond Radiguet, 19, a novelist and poet. Tragically, Radiguet would die by the end of the year.
The guiding spirit in Plain Song becomes the reincarnation of Radiguet in another long poem, Angel Heurtebise (1925). Cocteau was in an elevator when, he claimed, the angel spoke to him and divulged his name: it was the same as that of the elevator manufacturer, Heurtebise. This character continued to appear throughout his works.
Both poems are surrealistic in that they attempt to convey a deeper, fuller reality through intense images which are often not connected logically but rather to the dream world of the unconscious, as well as to a spiritual dimension.
Translator Maria Espinosa is a novelist and poet. Her website is www.mariaespinosa.com.