- Unknown Binding: 127 pages
- Publisher: Calder & Boyars (1968)
- ASIN: B0000CO7R6
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,120,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The devil in the flesh: A novel
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The Devil in the Flesh is so assured that one wonders how [Radiguet] would have written in maturity.' --The Guardian
'...a triumph of the poetic intelligence: a masterpiece...' --New Staetesman
He belonged to the solemn race of men whose lives unfold too quickly to their close. --Jean Cocteau --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Raymond Radiguet wrote The Devil in the Flesh between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, about his own adolescent love affair with an older woman. He died from typhoid fever at the age of twenty. His only other novel is Le Bal du Comte d'Orgel, also available from Marion Boyars Publishers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Thus our 16 year old narrator begins to explain his affair with the slightly older Marthe during the Great War. Affianced when she first meets her young lover, Marthe nevertheless goes on to marry Jacques, who spends most of the novel away fighting - conveniently for their romance. As the author observes: 'what the war meant for so many of us very young boys - four years of holiday.'
This short (127 page) novel follows their affair and the immaturity of the writer in dealing with an adult situation. Unlike other reviewers, I failed to particularly engage with the lead characters. The true sadness was in the letters from poor Jacques away at the Front, bewildered at his new wife's lack of interest in him - and the way Marthe heartlessly tears up some of these unread. Amazingly well written by a young man between the ages of 16 and 18 - yet left me untouched.
The book is inherently nasty, exploring lust and obsession at its most selfish, and yet one cannot help but root for the couple's success. The unnamed narrator's ruminations on love are as profound as they are disturbing and pessimistic. Theirs is an all-consuming romance which is destined to end in ruins. His feelings for Marthe are paradoxical: they are tainted by, or perhaps they inspire, his 'despotic instincts' which drive him to possess and control her both mentally and physically. Whilst she wallows in her contempt for her husband, burning and tearing his unopened letters, he fluctuates between feelings of remorse and a jealous hatred of the cuckolded man. Their affair becomes the scandal of the town - which inspires an amusing scene of black comedy - and all the while, time is steadily marching towards the inevitable: the war can't last forever and the lovers must soon face the consequences of their actions.
Controversial upon its release, this is a book that still retains the power to disturb us today. Set during a time of unimaginable loss and anguish, the protagonists remain selfishly indifferent. The Great War is never depicted first hand and we are barely afforded a glimpse of soldier-husband Jacques - a man who seems to exist in a reality far apart from that of these young and careless people. As the narrator informs us: 'Let those who are already reproaching me try to imagine what the war meant for so many of us very young boys - four years of holiday.'
Hard to believe he was only between the ages of 16 and 18 when he wrote this. For his age the talent and wisdom he shows within his writing is pretty remarkable, the characters are extremely well written and the relationship between the two lovers very much believable(he himself had a relationship with an older woman). The story itself has a quick pace and he never stops to mull over unessacery details. The ending is extremely sad and left me with a real sense of loss.
I don't think apart from Le Grande Meaulnes have i ever been moved by a novel quite as much as this.
Not many people seem to have heard of him which is a shame as he produced in my opinion a classic novel of real depth and beauty, you can only imagine had he lived beyond his 20 years what else he would have been able to have produced.
The story is dramatic and challenging – they are both guilty of lust, love and ‘cease the day’ of the times. It is extremely well written and quite captivating; I got the feeling she really loved the adolescent. The underage sex (for it starts when the schoolboy is 15) may well be a further and more difficult challenge today? It is also interesting how Francois’s father seems to almost promote the affair whilst the rest of society (landlords, neighbours etc) abhor the deceit yet hide it on the husband’s return.
For me the most shocking was not the affair or underage sex but the first quote below-
“It was I who dictated the only tender letters he ever received from her. She wrote them against her will, in tears, as I threatened that I would never see her again if she disobeyed. That Jacques should owe his only happiness to me did something to mitigate my remorse”
“The painful thing is not to leave life, but to leave whatever gives it meaning. When love is one’s life, what is the difference between living together and dying together”
“The field shivered in the evening breeze. Our selfish desire succeeded in forgetting prejudice, sacrificing the corn to the comfort of our love as it had sacrificed Jacques”
“Love must offer a great many advantages, since all men entrust it with their freedom”
Brilliant and one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read – 5 stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed this. Written by a young French man, who we are led to believe was writing through experience of having had a relationship with a woman whose husband was off fighting in... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kes
beautifully written; capturing the emotions of first love and the era it was written inPublished on 17 Oct. 2014 by Vanessa
IF U READ FRENCH I RECOMMEND THE ORIGINAL FRENCH TXT.TRANSLATIONS ARE OFTEN WILDLY MISINTERPRETED THE BIBLE IS A GD EXAMPLE OF THIS. Read morePublished on 11 Feb. 2014 by CENTRAL LONDON MAN
My browsing experience on Amazon led me to this wonderful novel, "The Devil in the Flesh, by Raymond Radiguet. Read morePublished on 17 July 2013 by Herman Norford
I ran across this one in a charity bookshop and picked up this Bristol edition mainly because I wanted some reading practice in French and partly because the story sounded... Read morePublished on 31 Aug. 2006 by C B Doak