“A masterpiece of promise.” —Jean Cocteau
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.
“. . . 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