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Jean Cocteau

(5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963 / Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines)

Quotations

  • ''Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 5 (1948). Anubis, in The Infernal Machine, act 2 (1932).
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  • ''Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. Dessins (1924), quoted in Pierre Chanel, "A Thousand Flashes of Genius," Jean Cocteau and the French Scene (1984).
  • ''One of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and friends.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. "Du Rêve," La Difficulté d'Etre (1947).
  • ''A film is a petrified fountain of thought.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. Esquire (New York, Feb. 1961).
  • ''When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. (Originally published 1918). Le Coq et l'Arlequin, Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926), repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950).
  • ''If it has to choose who is to be crucified, the crowd will always save Barabbas.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. (Essay originally published 1918). Le Coq et l'Arlequin, Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926), repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950). Barabbas was the thief and insurrectionary leader reprieved at Christ's crucifixion, following the custom at Passover. (Matthew 27).
  • ''All good music resembles something. Good music stirs by its mysterious resemblance to the objects and feelings which motivated it.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950). "Le Coq et l'Arlequin," Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926).
  • ''An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950). "Le Coq et l'Arlequin," Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926).
  • ''The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. (Originally published 1918). Le Coq et l'Arlequin, Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926), repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950).
  • ''In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.''
    Jean Cocteau (1889-1963), French author, filmmaker. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 9 (1950). "Le Coq et l'Arlequin," Le Rappel à L'Ordre (1926).

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Awakening

Grave mouths of lions
Sinuous smiling of young crocodiles
Along the river's water conveying millions
Isles of spice
How lovely he is, the son
Of the widowed queen
And the sailor
The handsome sailor abandons a siren,
Her widow's lament at the south of the islet

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