L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray. Jean. Man Ray Cocteau, ill.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.
L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.

L'Ange Heurtebise. Poème. Avec une photographie de l'ange par Man Ray.

Paris: Librairie Stock, 1925. First edition. Folio. [2], 15, [2] leaves, [1] leaf of plates. Original publisher's wrappers, glassine. Title-page bound in, other signatures loose, as issued. Some wear to portfolio spine and browning to glassine and page edges. One of 25 numbered copies on Hollande van Gelder paper, of a total edition of 355 copies.

One of Cocteau's most important poems, which he considered "as important for my work as the Demoiselles d'Avignon is for Picasso's." The legend of his epiphany of its creation- the angel Heurtebise descending upon him in an opium-induced vision in the elevator on the way to Picasso's, taking its name from the elevator manufacturer- is dismantled by John Richardson in his Life of Picasso: "Cocteau had devoted some nine months to the poem... [it] is not at all spontaneous: it is full of other poets' music- echoes of Rimbaud, Anna de Noailles, Rilke, and Mallarmé... [It is] probably Cocteau's finest poem." Regardless of its origins, the angel Heurtebise, guardian and muse, demon and reincarnation of Cocteau's lost lover Raymond Radiguet, played a significant role in Cocteau's work throughout the rest of his long career.

The heliogravure frontispiece is by Man Ray, after his original rayograph. Ray developed his own technique of camera-less "photos" several years earlier, creating arrangements on photosensitized paper and exposing them to light. "I am trying to make my photography automatic- to use my camera as I would a typewriter." It is his visualization of the unseen- the photographless photograph, the angel of Cocteau's visions.

This copy is signed by Cocteau on the half-title with a quote from the seventh section of the poem, "Viens au ralenti, folle étoile. Jean Cocteau." The line can be translated as "come to me slowly, crazy star."

"If someone proved to me that I would be signing my death sentence if I didn't add or subtract one syllable, I could not touch it. I would refuse, and die… I have written only one poem in my life with luck favoring me to the very end: it is L'Ange Heurtebise." (Cocteau quoted in Francis Steegmuller's Cocteau: A Biography, pp. 352-53). Item #1957

Price: $3,500.00