Jean Cocteau delighted in shocking the world. In pubic, at least, the image he presented was one of great daring -- a man eager to defy, willing to experiment, ready to challenge. Cocteau's achievements in almost every artistic medium -- including poetry, film, illustration, criticism, and ballet -- rightfully earned him a reputation for radical versatility. He assumed Oscar Wilde's role as "world's most dazzling talker" and Thomas DeQuincey's as "world's most conspicuous opium addict"; he drew depictions of his bouts in the all-male brothels of Toulon; he created the actor Jean Marais and the chanteuse Edith Piaf. But among Cocteau's many accomplishments was one composition protected by the private man: his diary.
Recorded during the last 13 years of his life, Cocteau's diary was kept a secret until 1983. this first of six projected volumes reveals Cocteau's life from 1951 to 1953. In it, he makes asides about Picasso, writes Oedipus rex, admires Stalin, travels through Europe, and engages in gross generalizations about Americans. With line drawings from Cocteau's original journal, Past Tense is a literary event -- a window into Cocteau's life and creativity as he wanted them to be remembered.