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The Infernal Machine and Other Plays

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3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,325 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Among the great figures who pioneered the modern movement in world literature, none showed himself more versatile than France's Jean Cocteau. Poet, novelist, critic, artist, actor, film-maker, Cocteau was also one of the greatest dramatists Europe has produced, with over a dozen plays which are frequently revived, not only ion France, but in translation in many other count ...more
Paperback, English Edition, 412 pages
Published January 17th 1964 by New Directions (first published January 1st 1950)
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Eadweard
Feb 10, 2017 Eadweard rated it liked it
Good:
Orpheus,
The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party

Decent:
Bacchus
Czarny Pies
May 25, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who find it on their course reading list.
Recommended to Czarny by: It was on a course reading list.
Shelves: french-lit
Cocteau has aged badly. His surrealistic retelling of Oedipus Rex has aged badly. These plays show only that you don't need to go too far with Freud before you have gone too far.

I would however be tempted to see the Infernal Machine in the theatre. Clever directors can sometimes breath life into dead horses.

Lu en francais
C.
Dec 08, 2012 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On one hand I do feel as though these French re-doings of the Theban plays do go over my head somewhat. On the other, I really enjoy seeing a new spin put on the personalities of each character. This was very well done, and highly enjoyable.
S.D. Johnson
Re-reading The Oedipus Cycle of Sophocles before this work, which is a retelling of Oedipus Rex, I found that Cocteau's attempt truly paled in comparison, & neither was it nearly as good as Les Enfants Terribles by him which I read awhile ago. There are some truly funny moments, such as the ghost of Laïus declaring that "les remparts étaient l'endroit le plus favorable aux apparitions des personnes mortes de mort violente, à cause des égouts". (The ramparts are the most favorable place for a ...more
Janice Hau
May 23, 2016 Janice Hau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was finally motivated to read this play which I had at home after seeing Cocteau's 1946 film 'La Belle et la Bete'. I love his very witty dialogue in the film between characters and it is just as good on the page. It has some quirky elements including a polite ghost (fantome poli) that can only appear near the gutters because of the steam, Jocaste's fear of being strangled by her scarf (which was based on a real event of the dancer Isadora Duncan who was fatally strangled by her own scarf whic ...more
Keith
Feb 08, 2015 Keith rated it it was ok
Shelves: partial-read
The Infernal Machine – ** This is an unheroic telling of the Oedipus legend. It is a bit more light hearted, but more drawn out and rambling. Ultimately it pales in comparison to Sophocles’ version. Why would anyone want to try to re-tell a story that was so well told? The comparison is unavoidable.

It was particularly disappointing (in comparison to the original) in the last act where Oedipus learns the truth. I was surprised that Cocteau even tried to present Oedipus’ discovery, knowing that r
...more
Kim
Jul 29, 2015 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
There's not much to really tell about "The Infernal Machine" - a retelling of "Oedipus the King", with the addition of a few new characters, including Anubis. Honestly, there might be something lost in the reading of this play as opposed to seeing it performed, as the text fell really flat to me. The exploration of the Sphinx is the only thing that really sticks out to me, and, at times, she can come across as nonsensical. Overall, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't fantastic, either.
Bruno
Nov 11, 2016 Bruno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to practice my French. I am a fan of Cocteau (I highly recommend his book Opium). In this new version of this old play, Cocteau uses twenty century's language to bring us closer to characters that otherwise would feel too foreign. The topic of course is difficult to digest but it is evident Cocteau worked on every detail of his new play to make it attractive to a new audience. I recommend it.
Bridget
Feb 25, 2016 Bridget rated it really liked it
This is a compelling look at Oedipus from a different perspective; much more of Jocasta. I love the scenes with the Oedipus and the Sphinx. There is a sense of humor to this play as well, even though it deals with Greek tragedy.
Bailey
May 18, 2007 Bailey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rassias fans
I love how playful Cocteau is - as seen in this book and "Beauty and the Beast." If you know the Oedipus story you'll think this is hilarious.
Rea
Sep 24, 2011 Rea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, theatre
Studied in 2004.

Really enjoyed this one! One of the few books we read that year that actually resonated with me.
We did a performance of the play. I had the role of Anubis. Was great fun!
M-AY
Sep 25, 2010 M-AY rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
Cocteau revisitant le mythe d'Oedipe...
Meredith
Jun 12, 2007 Meredith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: etudiants de la langue francaise
J'aurais mieux compris ceci si je l'ai vu au theatre, mais c'etais tres interessant quand meme.
Melusine Parry
Une fantastique réécriture du mythe d'Oedipe.
adeline
Aug 01, 2013 adeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny and clever reinterpretation of the Oedipe myth.
Several nice references to other famous play (like Hamlet)
Carolane Vallée
What I thought... Well, it's surely a book who made me smile, but also, helped me to understand the story of <>.
M.moore
Dec 01, 2010 M.moore rated it it was amazing
Never have I read a greater poet--
Vladdygde
May 23, 2015 Vladdygde rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-buy
Une réécriture brillante d'Oedipus Rex, teintée de surréalisme. Mais je me suis ennuyé à la lire...
Lisa
Nov 23, 2009 Lisa rated it it was amazing
The Infernal Machine, and Other Plays. by Jean Cocteau (1964)
Andrew
Jan 28, 2010 Andrew rated it it was ok
i'm not going to finish this book. the infernal machine and orpheus were good. the wedding at the eiffel tower was not, and i can't get into arthur or bacchus.
Tora
Jun 20, 2008 Tora rated it really liked it
for me, it was all about the Infernal Machine. An old story retold time and time throughout the ages, but i loved the surrealness of Cocteau's interpretation. Mmmmm.
Denise M
Aug 11, 2013 Denise M rated it really liked it
Read this in high-school. I loved Cocteau then and still love to read great quotations from his works.
Agoaye Leblog
May 04, 2014 Agoaye Leblog rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Je m'y suis vue. Que j'aime cette tragédie...
Inspiré de Sophocle, Cocteau nous rappelle l'humanité d'Œdipe, de Jocaste et de la petite Antigone.
Admirable
Estelle Elizagoien
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Mar 11, 2017
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Jan 19, 2016
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Feb 25, 2016
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Jan 03, 2017
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Feb 04, 2017
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Lucie rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2009
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23993
Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, playwright and filmmaker. Along with other Surrealists of his generation (Jean Anouilh and René Char for example) Cocteau grappled with the "algebra" of verbal codes old and new, mise en scène language and technologies of modernism to create a paradox: a classical a ...more
More about Jean Cocteau...

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“Regarde, spectateur, remontée à bloc, de telle sorte que le ressort se déroule avec lenteur tout le long d'une vie humaine, une des plus parfaites machines construites par les dieux infernaux pour l'anéantissement mathématique d'un mortel.” 0 likes
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