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Jean Cocteau

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Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. His versatile, unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim.
Cocteau was born in Maisons-Laffitte, a small town near Paris to Georges Cocteau and his wife Eugénie Lecomte, a prominent Parisian family. His father was a lawyer and amateur painter, who committed suicide when Cocteau was nine. At the age of fifteen, Cocteau left home. Despite his achievements in virtually all literary and artistic fields, Cocteau insisted that he was primarily a poet and that all his work was poetry. He published his first volume of poems, Aladdin’s Lamp, at nineteen. Soon Cocteau became known in the Bohemian artistic circles as ‘The Frivolous Prince’—the title of a volume he published at twenty-one. Edith Wharton described him as a man “to whom every great line of poetry was a sunrise, every sunset the foundation of the Heavenly City…”

In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with Marcel Proust, André Gide, and Maurice Barrès. The Russian ballet-master Sergei Diaghilev challenged Cocteau to write for the ballet - “Astonish me,” he urged. This resulted in Parade which was produced by Diaghilev, designed by Pablo Picasso, and composed by Erik Satie in 1917.

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