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The Devil in the Flesh (Neversink) Paperback – March 27, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“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 be- fore Radiguet has delivered to us the secret of that age: we have all falsified it.” —Francois Mauriac

“Although Radiguet was so young, he had managed to zone in on the perversity of human love with an accuracy which anticipates, or is in parallel development with, Freud. . . . His insights compel us to keep reading, in the unpleasant knowledge that we may learn something, possibly even about ourselves. . . . One of the measures of the book’s brilliance is that its morality, or its amorality, is not clear-cut.” —The Guardian

“A masterpiece of promise.” —Jean Cocteau

About the Author

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. Once there he quickly began writing for the magazine Sic, alongside writers such as Louis Aragon and Andre Breton, and he befriended many notable Modernists, including Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. Despite his age, he also quickly developed a reputation for fast living; Ernest Hemingway would later accuse him of sleeping with Cocteau, among others, to advance his career. 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. Cocteau would later claim that he’d had to lock Radiguet in his hotel room to keep him from drinking binges rather than writing. The author’s youth and the scandalous story made the book a sensation, but Radiguet did not have long to enjoy his fame. Less than a year later, shortly after taking a trip with Cocteau to the country to finish a second novel, Le Bal du comte d’Orgel, 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 Flau- bert, Victor Hugo, and numerous other French masters.


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Product Details

  • Series: Neversink
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612190561
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612190563
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Raymond Radiguet is often described as an author of truth and simplicity. There are love stories in the millions in the literary realm, but very few are able to succinctly describe the psychological pathos of a lover and the internal monologue that besets the experience. The narrator describes from the first person perspective what he lives through as a second person spectator. What is most fascinating about the fashion in which Rodiguet writes is how he encapsulates in a sentence an entire psychological and emotional tug-of-war to reveal the presence of the flesh, and with an uncanny tenderness allow us to bewail his fate with him; The narrative flows smoothly, all the while being engrossing and intriguing. In one sitting you are transported into a domain where reason seems to undo itself, but not before having spelled out all the significance each act may profess. It is undeniably an excellent work, a leisure reading that brings pleasure and accords us with the entertainment; the joy and folly of absolute love where reason is bravely dismissed unawares as a tide of emotions claims us to drift to places we never knew existed. The way the book is written makes its merits all the more valuable and indelible. An amazing read. Deep and true as any novel you may come across in your life.
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Format: Paperback
This novel should be read by everyone who reads, and should be assigned in freshman college survey courses on the 20th c novel. It's so important, so direct, moving, told with such clarity. It's a preternaturally perceptive and full account of a love affair between a French teenage boy and a married woman, a couple years older than him, named Marthe, whose husband is off at war. The author, Raymond Radiguet, died of typhoid at 20, during the First World War, a huge loss to literature. One posthumous poetry collection survived him, and this wondrous short novel. The story, of course, is biographically inspired. Here is a passage: "For I often doubted the sincerity of her love. I sometimes wondered whether for her I was not a mere pastime--a caprice that she might abandon quite suddenly as peacetime recalled her to her conjugal duties. 'Yet,' I told myself, 'there are moments when lips and eyes cannot lie.' This is true, but there are also stingy men who, when drunk, get angry if one refuses to accept their watch or their wallet. They are as sincere then as in their normal state. The times when one cannot lie are precisely those when one lies the most, above all to oneself. To believe a woman 'at a time when she cannot lie' is to believe in the sudden generosity of a miser."
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Format: Paperback
Raymond Radiguet. Le diable au corps

Described by Jean Cocteau as un phénomèna des lettres françaises Raymond Radiguet in his short life completed only one volume of poetry and two works of fiction. When we understand that Cocteau was his friend and supporter, as well as the mentor who introduced the young man to the lethal drugs that contributed to his early death, we may well take this encomium cum grano. I never finished Radiguet's Le Bal du Compte d'Orgel, but I have recently re-read the earlier work. It still remains for me an intriguing novel, a first person narrative of a First World War love affair between François a schoolboy of sixteen and Marthe Grangier, a rather older woman who becomes his mistress while her husband, Jacques Lacomb is at the Front.

The boy first becomes attracted to the woman when he witnesses Marthe as a nurse, fainting when bearing a badly injured soldier to hospital. He comforts her and goes off to school, mocked by a friend but completely smitten, for he is now what he considers a man, seemingly proving himself to be the archetypal Frenchman in securing a mistress at so youthful an age. Later this apparent maturation is consistently belied by the facts. `Why is it,' Marthe asks at one of their lovers' trysts `that you are a man only when in my arms?' The deceits and subterfuges employed by the couple to cover their illicit and, to most others, shameful, affair provides much of the external action. The internal anger and frustration is conveyed through the narrator's tortured monologues.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Raymond Radiguet tells, in first person, the story of a remarkably independent and self-assured teenage boy who takes a young woman as his lover. The story takes place in France during the First World War. When the unnamed narrator meets Marthe, she is engaged to a soldier in the French army. The marriage proceeds, but the war keeps the husband in the front lines and and affords the two lovers plenty of time to consummate their affair, which they scarcely bother to conceal.

There is much insight in this novel into the forms and attitudes of lovers. The narrator's voice is coldly analytical, surprisingly so considering that Radiguet was writing about his own recent past while still in his teens. Aside from being a romance, however, the novel is also a portrait of domination and manipulation in a relationship. From the moment they meet, the narrator begins directing Marthe's life--changing her hair, her wardrobe, dictating her letters to her husband, and even telling her what furniture to buy. This is a remarkable study in the behavioral mechanics behind a passionate relationship.
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