As the First World War reaches its final year, an illicit love affair is beginning between a sixteen-year-old boy and a young woman married to a soldier at the front. They meet secretly in her flat on the outskirts of Paris, in cornfields and on river banks. When she receives letters from her husband, they burn them together. Intoxicated by passion, they cannot bear to end their affair, even when it causes a scandal among their friends and neighbours. Instead, they hurtle towards tragedy.
Written in spare, haunting prose when Raymond Radiguet was still a teenager, this semi-autobiographical novel became an instant bestseller and its author was hailed as a genius before his tragic death at the age of twenty. Expressing all the anguish and joy of adolescence, it is a work of startling imagery and subtle beauty.
This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Fay Weldon.
Raymond Radiguet was born near Paris in 1903. He dropped out of his lycee in order to pursue his interests in journalism and literature, and associated himself with the Modernist set, befriending Picasso, Max Jacob, Jean Hugo, Juan Gris and especially Jean Cocteau, who became his mentor. His first novel, Le Diable au corps (The Devil in the Flesh), was published in 1923 and became a runaway bestseller in France. Radiguet died of typhoid fever the same year, at the age of twenty. His second novel, Le bal du Comte d'Orgel (Count d'Orgel's Ball) was published posthumously in 1924.