Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Books: Le Livre Blanc by Jean Cocteau

The think I will take away from this work of gay male erotica is an image of boys so sunburned and with their chests so white in comparison that they look like chestnuts roasted and split. That edible image, so evocative of heat and scent is the one clear moment of this book for me. The translation is terrible. There are words that are out of place and make no sense. I am certain it could be a smoother read if the English translation were handled more delicately. Still, the prose is clearly penned by a deft hand. A fondness for detail whilst also maintaining a certain minimalist touch to description. This is a slim volume that moves from love to despair to promiscuity to the burlesque. I love that the narrator is aware of the social pressures for him to turn straight and marry, and yet he firmly understands his own inflexible sexual nature. He loves men and boys, unashamedly. There is a strength in the telling. Anonymously published and yet Jean Cocteau allowed it to be listed amongst his works. This edition wears Cocteau's name proudly.

I am not sure if this work will have any influence on the book I am writing. But I am glad I have read it.

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