The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

October 11, 2013

October 11, 1963

Jean Cocteau ( July 5,  1889 to October 11, 1963) excelled in a wide variety of artistic mediums. From the outside it appears he stepped as a youth from a world of middle class affluence into the vortex of modern art with a singular aplomb. And he never left this central position.

He is often quoted about cats.  His cat Karoun figures in some. Karoun may be a Persian or Armenian name.  One reads the cat wore a collar with the message "Cocteau belongs to me." And this is a picture of the pair.





An early classic by Jean Cocteau is Les Enfants Terribles (
1929).  We read in a review on google books, that it

.... came into its own for English-language readers in 1955 when this translation [The Holy Terrors] was completed by Rosamund Lehmann. .... Lehrmann was able to capture the essence of Cocteau's strange, necromantic imagination and to bring fully to life in English his story of a brother and sister, orphaned in adolescence, who build themselves a private world out of one shared room and their own unbridled fantasies. What started in games and laughter...[became] for Paul and Elisabeth a drug too magical to resist. The crime which finally destroys them has the inevitability of Greek tragedy
And here from Lehman's translation is a snippet:

That portion of old Paris known as the Cite Monthiers [contains]... a row of small private dwellings secretively disposed beneath...flat towering walls....Clearly these little houses must be the abodes of artists. The windows are...covered with photographers' drapes but it is easy to guess what they conceal: rooms chock a block with weapons and lengths of brocade, with canvases depicting basketfuls of cats or the families of Bolivian diplomats.


As a young man Jean Cocteau collaborated with Diaghilev on ballets. Philip Glass has an opera based on Les Enfants Terribles. 

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