A new name for me to conjure with and thanks to the publisher, Marion Boyars, for a copy of The Devil in the Flesh by Raymond Radiguet.
You sometimes wonder how the flame can flicker on down the years for a writer of so little, who died so young.
Raymond Radiguet was born on this day, June18th 1903 and died on December 12th 1923.
Seemingly quite a controversial figure on the Parisian literary circuit of the time, befriended by Picasso and Jean Cocteau and perhaps not befriended by Ernest Hemingway, who made some fairly forthright declarations on just how Raymond Radiguet made such remarkable literary progress in such a brief space of time.
Jean Cocteau was his mentor and it is Cocteau's biography of Radiguet which gives a hint of the promise unfulfilled
"He belonged to the solemn race of men whose lives unfold too quickly to their close"
A mere book of short stories and two novels to his name and having just finished The Devil in the Flesh I can only begin to imagine how prolific and influential Raymond Radiguet may have been had he survived the bout of typhoid that killed him at the age of twenty.
Reading this book felt like reading a version of The Awakening by Kate Chopin but from an entirely different perspective, that of the young man who falls for the older married woman. This could easily be Robert and Edna's story apart from the fact it's a different country, different social milieu, different circumstances, different weather, in fact completely different but strangely and basically the same.
These would be superb companion reads for a book group, both short and succinct but emotionally charged reading that would create some fascinating discussions.
A young sixteen year old begins an affair with Marthe, an older married woman and despite his physical maturity he remains emotionally a child in many ways.As events play out towards tragic conclusions it becomes even clearer that this is the story of "a boy in a man's world"
Writing this when he was still a teenager himself Raymond Radiguet displays a precocious intelligence that would surely have produced some of the classics of the twentieth century.His other novel Count d'Orgel as luck would have it published in one of those perfectly dinky Pushkin Press editions.