Open this book The Devil in the Flesh

The Devil in the Flesh

A Novel

Translated by Christopher Moncrieff

Part of The Neversink Library

Hailed by Jean Cocteau as a “masterpiece,” and by the Guardian as “Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero, avant la lettre,” this taut tale written by a teenager in the form of a frank “confession” is a gem of early twentieth century romanticism. Long unavailable in the U.S., it is here presented in a sparkling new translation.

Set in Paris during the First World War, it tells the story of Francois, the 16-year-old narrator, who falls in love with Marthe, an older, married woman whose husband is off fighting at the front. What seems to begin as a charming tale of puppy love quickly darkens, and they launch into a steamy affair. In the tense environment of the wartime city, their love takes on a desperation transcending their youthfulness.

And as the badly-kept secret of their relationship unfolds, scandal descends, leading the story to a final, startling conclusion — and causing the book itself to become a scandal when it was first published in 1923, just before the author’s death at the age of 20.

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RAYMOND RADIGUET was born in 1903 in Saint-Maur, a small town outside Paris. He was the son of a cartoonist, but little else is known about his childhood until, at age 16, he dropped out of school after an affair with the wife of a soldier off fighting in the first World War, to go to Paris. At the age of 18, after writing a collection of poems that would only be published posthumously, Les joues en feu, Radiguet moved to a fishing village near Toulon to work on the novel that would become his masterpiece, The Devil in the Flesh, which was based on his high school affair. Radiguet died of typhoid fever at age 20. Composer Francis Poulenc said of his death, “For two days I was unable to do anything, I was so stunned.”

CHRISTOPHER MONCRIEFF is one of the world’s premier French translators. He has translated the work of Gustave Flaubert, Victor Hugo, and numerous other French masters.


“. . . a triumph of the poetic intelligence: a masterpiece. . .” —New Statesman 

“Christopher Moncrieff’s new translation carries Radiguet’s frank, staccato prose well. The confessional honesty of the language is what makes the book both shocking and sad.” —Times Literary Supplement

The Devil in the Flesh is unretouched and seems shocking, but nothing so resembles cynicism as clairvoyance. No adolescent before Radiguet has delivered to us the secret of that age: we have all falsified it.” —Francois Mauriac

“A century on, this novella still has the power to unsettle.” The Guardian

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