"TOUTE BELLE OEUVRE EST ÉCRITE À LA MAIN": WONDERFUL LARGE ORIGINAL DRAWING BY COCTEAU, WITH 22-LINE MANUSCRIPT ON YOUTH AND ART ENTITLED "OXFORD"
COCTEAU, Jean. Original drawing and autograph manuscript. [Oxford]: 1956. Original pen-and-ink and pencil design with 22 lines of text in French, on ruled paper measuring 9 by 11-3/4 inches. $4800.
Superb original Cocteau drawing of a face and 22-line manuscript on youth and art titled "Oxford," penned in June 1956 on Cocteau's visit to the University of Oxford where he was named doctor honoris causa. "Any good work is written by hand and the result of a long wait… The poet who agrees to continue the journey on foot to the end becomes a victim of Society…"
The manuscript reads: "Toute belle oeuvre est écrite à la main et résulte d'une longue attente. Tout beau parcours d'une vie de fait à pied sur le rythme de Goethe allant de Werther à Weimar et de Weimar à Rome. Mais la hâte tourne les têtes chaudes. La jeunesse ouvrière abandonne l'artisanat pour l'usine, et, chez les artistes, la jeunesse se fatigue de la route nationale. Elle se décourage, de passée par les grosses voitures qui l'aspergent de lumière et de boue. Elle cède, elle demande l'aumône. Elle se livre à la pantomime de l'auto-stop moral qui n'est autre qu'une manière désinvolte de tendre la main et de mendier un peu de vitesse et de luxe. Le Poète qui accepte de poursuivre la route à pied jusqu'au bout devient une victime de la Societé, qui l'expulse comme indesirable. Il dérange. Il est considéré comme un flàneur contre qui se heurte une foule où chacun s'imagine savoir où il va. Il est un ordre en forme de désordre. Un aristocrate à figure d'anarchiste. Un empêcheur de danser en rond. Jean Cocteau 1956." [Roughly translated: Any good work is written by hand and the result of a long wait. Every beautiful path is made on foot to the rhythm of Goethe's Werther in Weimar and from Weimar to Rome. But haste turns the hot heads. Working youth abandon crafts for the factory, and among artists, youth tires of the highway. They (youth) are discouraged, passed by big cars that splash them with light and then mud. They give up, beg for alms. They surrender to the pantomime of moral hitchhiking which is nothing other than a casual way to reach out the hand and beg for a bit of speed and luxury. The poet who agrees to continue the journey on foot to the end becomes a victim of Society, which expels him as an undesirable. He disturbs. He is considered a loafer in a crowd where everyone believes that they know where they are going. He is an order shaped as disorder. An aristocrat in the figure of an anarchist. A troublemaker dancing in circles.]
This passage may be an excerpt of Cocteau's "Discours d'Oxford," the speech he delivered at Oxford on the occasion of his honorary degree, an honor that gave him a great deal of pride. "Cocteau delivered his lecture in the Taylorian on Thursday, 14 June  at 5 p.m. He was introduced by Professor Seznec… The lecture was received with what Cocteau describes as 'un tonnerre d'applaudissements', an expression of affection, warmth and enthusiasm, which, Maurice Bowra assured him, had not been the case with either Gide or Mauriac… He retained an affection for Oxford and for his honorary doctorate. In a scribbled note added to the manuscript of an address he gave to a student audience, a few years later, which the Taylorian also has in its collection, he wrote, in answer to a questioner in the audience who had asked if he was proud of any of the honors which had been bestowed on him in his life: 'Oui, un seul – c'est d'être docteur Honoris Causa à l'université d'Oxford'" (David Thomas, Taylor Institution Library). Text in French.
A few minor smudges, faint hint of damp along right margin. Ink spots dropped by Cocteau as part of the design, not affecting legibility. Near-fine condition. A splendid original drawing and manuscript.