Père Lachaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, Francia
Raymond Radiguet (18 June 1903 – 12 December 1923) was a French novelist and poet whose two novels were noted for their explicit themes, and unique style and tone.
Radiguet was born in Saint-Maur, Val-de-Marne, close to Paris, the son of a caricaturist. In 1917, he moved to the city. Soon he would drop out of the Lycée Charlemagne, where he studied, in order to pursue his interests in journalism and literature.
In early 1923, Radiguet published his first and most famous novel, Le Diable au corps (The Devil in the Flesh). The story of a young married woman who has an affair with a 16-year-old boy while her husband is away fighting at the front provoked scandal in a country that had just been through World War I. Though Radiguet denied it, it was established later that the story was in large part autobiographical.
His second novel, Le bal du Comte d'Orgel, also dealing with adultery, was only published posthumously in 1924. In addition to his two novels, Radiguet's works include a few poetry volumes and a play.
He associated himself with the Modernist set, befriending Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Jean Hugo, Juan Gris and especially Jean Cocteau, who became his mentor. Radiguet also had several well-documented relationships with women. An anecdote told by Ernest Hemingway has an enraged Cocteau charging Radiguet (known in the Parisian literary circles as "Monsieur Bébé" – Mister Baby) with decadence for his tryst with a model: "Bébé est vicieuse. Il aime les femmes." ("Baby is depraved. He likes women." [Note the use of the feminine adjective.]) Radiguet, Hemingway implies, employed his sexuality to advance his career, being a writer "who knew how to make his career not only with his pen but with his pencil."
In 1945, Steadman and Blake write that admirers of his first novel "include the most discriminating of critics." Aldous Huxley is quoted as declaring that Radiguet had attained the literary control that others required a long career to reach. François Mauriac said that Le Diable au corps 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."
On 12 December 1923, Radiguet died at age 20 in Paris of tuberculosis, which he contracted after a trip he took with Cocteau. Cocteau, in an interview with The Paris Review stated that Radiguet had told him three days before his death that, "In three days, I am going to be shot by the soldiers of God." In reaction to this death Francis Poulenc wrote, "For two days I was unable to do anything, I was so stunned".
In her 1932 memoir, Laughing Torso, British artist Nina Hamnett describes Radiguet's funeral: "The church was crowded with people. In the pew in front of us was the negro band from Le Boeuf sur le Toit. Picasso was there, Brâncuși and so many celebrated people that I cannot remember their names. Radiguet's death was a terrible shock to everyone. Coco Chanel, the celebrated dressmaker, arranged the funeral. It was most wonderfully done. Cocteau was too ill to come." ... "Cocteau was terribly upset and could not see anyone for weeks afterwards. I wrote to him in February and asked him if I could come and see him. He wrote me a charming letter:
25 fevrier 1924
Je suis toujours malade et sans courage.
Telephonez un matin".
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