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Count d'Orgel [Paperback]

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Item description for Count d'Orgel by Raymond Radiguet...

A study of a three-sided relationship set in Parisian society after the First World War. Count Anne d'Orgel and his wife Mahaut befriend the young Francois de Seryeuse and find that their marriage is alternately qualified and confirmed by the feelings thus released.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.56" Width: 4.78" Height: 0.53"
Weight:   0.39 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 27, 2006
Publisher   Pushkin Press
ISBN  1901285030  
ISBN13  9781901285031  

Availability  0 units.

More About Raymond Radiguet

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Radiguet was born in 1903 and died tragically young in 923, having wirtten only two short but celebrated novels and a volume of poetry. After leaving school, he enter Parisian literary circles, becoming the protege o Jean Cocteau.

Raymond Radiguet was born in 1903 and died in 1923.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > General

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A masterpiece from "The Rimbaud of the novel"  Jul 11, 2004
"Do the emotions that stir the heart of a woman like Madame d'Orgel belong to the past?" With this opening inquiry, Raymond Radiguet launches into a brilliant "analysis of feelings". This is his second, and last novel after the precocious and firey "Le Diable du Corps"; as he would die of typhoid fever in 1923 at the tender age of 20. From the get go, early in Chapter 1 Radiguet states: "Every age bears its fruit, one must know how to gather it." "Le Bal du Comte d'Orgel" is Radiguet's harvest.

Francois de Seryeuse is "exactly his age"; heedless and in love with the young Madame d'Orgel (Mahaut), a descendent of French-Martinque aristocracy. But Francois respects and admires her vane husband, the thirty year old Anne d'Orgel as a friend. Mahuat and Francois are soon delighted to discover that they are distant cousins, and thus brought a little closer to one another. Since their first meeting at the Medrano Circus in February, 1920 they have been smitten with each other. Francois "thought her beautiful, disdainful and absent-minded." Nevertheless, Mahuat is devoted and loyal to her husband even though he is seemingly indifferent to her. Anne "...began to love his wife from the moment he saw that Francois loved her, as though he needed the evidence of another man's desire to teach him her value." As for Francois, "The combination of [his] love and friendship brought about such a strange result, that he resolved to use all his influence with Orgel to make him love his wife better."

The beauty of this novel of internal drama lays in its delicacy of manner, and its concise, cubist/fauvist style. Radiguet writes as though wielding a razor-sharp rapier in place of a pen. Each sentence is laced with precise aphorisms and maxims, slashing, cutting, and thrusting into the psychology and motives of each character. Wallace Fowlie in his classic "Guide to Contemporary French Literature" writes of both Radiguet and his elder friend, Cocteau: "Their purely descriptive passages are more swift and condensed than the swiftest in Stendhal. They are most skillful in their depiction of brief moments, brief encounters. They are interested primarily in taking candid camera shots of man's adventure. Pictures which will relieve the monotony of a too familiar story." Radiguet's writing has been compared to that of Madame de Lafayette, and Choderlos de Laclos ("Dangerous Laisons"). Elements of Balzac and Nietszche are apparent as well. And yet, it's astounding to think such genius as this could come from one barely twenty years old! But, as Radiguet himself states of the infernal poet Arthur Rimbaud: "It is Rimbaud's work and not the age at which he wrote it that astounds me. All great poets have written at seventeen. The greatest are those who succeed in making one forget it." By Chapter 14 when Francois' and Mahaut's "secret love" becomes only slightly less secret as their arms magically entwine during a car ride with the Count; in Chapter 17 at a picnic on the Marne when the trio "...received a warning and each one just missed discovering a part of the truth"; and, later in Chapter 20 as the two kiss for only the second time, a kiss witnessed by Anne which was so "made not to order", I became fully convinced of Radiguet's greatness, as well as the agelessness of great works. After these almost inflammatory intrigues, Radiguet deftly manages to return the manage a trois "to it's proper place, that is to say into obscurity."

I can't recommend this book to everyone, just as I believe that one's personal religious faith ought not be proselytized to the unready or unwilling. You will have come to it on your own in order to gratefully partake in the delights contained herein. There is a treasure trove of early 20th Century French writers (many of them nowadays obscure) of which Raymond Radiguet is but one sharply sparkling diamond, waiting to be discovered by anyone attracted to good literature and poetry. Many, many American authors have been influenced by the French, and Wallace Fowlie's "Guide" is sort of a treasure map.

This little lavender Pushkin Press edition of "Count d'Orgel" is well done, having been printed on good, solid paper stock and containing a brief memoir by Radiguet's "mentor" Jean Cocteau. On the opening page there is a Seurat painting of a ghostly cat against a dark background, setting the tone of intrigue for the novel. The dust-jacket illustration contains an obscure "mood" painting by Duncan Ward which corresponds nicely to Radiguet's last words uttered to Cocteau: "There is a colour that moves and people are hidden in that colour." Cocteau asks if he'd like these "people" sent away. Radiguet responds, "You cannot send them away as you cannot see the colour."

The masked costume "ball" of the title doesn't actually take place, but in the preparations for it at the d'Orgels the people hidden in that "moving colour" come to light, just as Seurat's whispy cat leaps onto the cover page. It is here, amidst discarded costumes, and the sense of a widening gulf separating Francois from Mahuat, and Mahuat from Anne, as the tropical island Martinique is from Paris, where Radiguet's preciously innocent love triangle (and writing career) climaxes - just as it should - with a hushed whisper.


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