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The Devil in the Flesh

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,461 ratings  ·  265 reviews
The Devil in the Flesh, one of the finest, most delicate love stories ever written, is set in Paris during the last year of the First World War. The narrator, a boy of sixteen, tells of his love affair with Martha Lacombe, a young woman whose soldier husband is away at the front. With an accuracy of insight that is almost ruthless, he describes his conflicting emotions—the ...more
Paperback, Marion Boyars Modern Classics, UK, 127 pages
Published 1968 by Marion Boyars (first published 1921)
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3.71  · 
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 ·  3,461 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Barry Pierce
One of the greatest tragedies of 20th century literature was the death of Raymond Radiguet in 1923. Having written this novel in his teens he finally succumbed to typhoid at the age of 20. In his short life he dazzled France's artistic community, becoming friends with Picasso and Jean Cocteau, even Coco Chanel arranged his funeral. When we discuss him we can only make assumptions and question what he would have become if he hadn't died so young. However, we can keep him alive by reading what lit ...more
Luís C.
Is there a Radiguet myth as there is a Rimbaud myth?

Raymond Radiguet, born in 1903, was an author of an amazing precocity. He produced his masterpiece, The Devil in the Flesh, between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. This publication provoked a scandal, due to the youth of the protagonists, but mainly due to the lack of respect that had arisen in relation to the valiant combatants of the world conflict still very recent. The novel seemed to justify Marthe's adultery, whose husband was beaten he
Le Diable au corps (The Devil in the Flesh). Raymond Radiguet was 16 when he started writing this novel, was 18 when he finished it, and two years later he would be dead from typhoid fever. It's the story of a 16 year old French boy who has an affair with the 19 year old wife of a WWI soldier away from home. It caused quite a stir when it was first published. It seems to have been partly autobiographical since Radiguet himself, at age 14, had an affair with a soldiers wife.

In spite of Radiguet'
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
This book has been on my radar for a while now since hearing that one of my favourite authors, Yukio Mishima, counted Radiguet as one of his influences and hoped to emulate his writing style.

The story itself is intriguing, and not as explicit at it may sound like at first. A 16 year old boy falls in love with a 19 year old married woman whose husband is fighting at the front during WW1. The couple embark on an affair, one that brings out rollercoaster emotions in the boy; one moment he is havin
Introduction, by Fay Weldon

--The Devil in the Flesh

Afterword, by Robert Baldick
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bisexual men who hate women
Recommended to Manny by: notgettingenough
Sassy Gay Friend

[Grey exterior, early morning. RADIGUET is bent over the motionless form of MARTHE. Enter the SASSY GAY FRIEND]

SGF: Marthe is about to die a horrible death because of the callous neglect of her lover, Radiguet. Marthe, what, what, WHAT are you -

RADIGUET: You're too late. She's gone.

SGF: [looking at watch] Are we on European time? I'm such a stupid bitch!

RADIGUET: I'm afraid so.

SGF: Well... no point wasting a trip. Let me come in again.

[The scene rewinds and he comes in again, Spanish Inquisitio
Ivana Books Are Magic
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Two days ago, I read this novel. Did I like it? Quite frankly, I loved it. I just couldn't put this novel down. I must have read it an hour or so. I got up a bit more earlier that morning so I had time to read it with my morning coffee (it is not a very long novel but still it is amazing how easy it was to find one's self glued to those pages- and I was glued to them! I mean that in a nice way for it was a good feeling being so lost in the story). What a beautiful and unique piece of writing it ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Radiquet was the literary prodigy and l'enfant terrible of the Post-WWI Parisian literary scene, who died in Dec. 1923 at the age of 20 from typhoid fever. Undoubtedly something of a genius, certainly a libertine, he was the object of a nearly cult-like adoration by Jean Cocteau, though he (Radiquet) seems to have had many heterosexual liaisons as well.

This book (a novella of only rapid 127 pages) was published a year before his death, at the age of 19. It is about an adultry of a 16 year-old b
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-novels
Very brief novel about teenage love, The protagonists are 16 (he) and 19 (she). She is married to a soldier at the front (set in WW1). Captures wonderfully the angst, passion, selfishness, obsession of teenage love. The boy is sometimes like a toddler having a tantrum and yet the subjects are much more serious. It is a looking back novel and he continues to wonder how selfish and stupid he has been and how little he understood. Yet this was written by a teenage boy. Radiguet wrote 2 novels, was ...more
I had seen both movie versions of this, both quite sensual, the French one from 1947 and the Italian one from the '80s. I remember there was quite a stir about the '80s one because there are explicit scenes of fellatio in it and it was one of the first "legit" Euro films to have X-rated scenes done by a "legit" actress. The 1947 film is quite remarkable for its day, a real advance in showing sex on the screen; it's also a masterpiece of the cinema, and still quite hard to see, for no good reason ...more
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in 1923, "The Devil in the Flesh" (in French, "Le Diable au Corps"), is a tender and at times, heartbreaking story told by the narrator, who at 15, entered into an affair with Mme. Marthe Lacombe, a woman several years his senior he had fancied since his father had introduced him to her family several months before her marriage to her fiance, a soldier at the Front.

The narrator is a rather precocious youth, who thinks himself wiser beyond his years. But as the affair procee
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-read
I don't usually let characters get to me but this guy... I couldn't stand him.

"When the ties that bind us to someone aren’t yet strong enough, to lose sight of that person, all we need do is fail to meet them just once."

" I was drunk with desire. Marthe belonged to me, and it wasn’t me who had said it, but her. I could touch her face, kiss her eyes, her arms, dress her, damage her in whatever way I liked. In my frenzy I bit her where her skin was uncovered, so her mother would suspect her o
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tragic story of first love , beautifully written.
Sad the author died young and one wonders what great novels would have been written!
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly extraordinary... I remember many years ago seeing an interview with Brian Aldiss in which he was talking about the novel Frankenstein. "The best novel ever written by a teenager," he said. And I accepted that. But now I know that the best novel ever written by a teenager is this masterpiece of love, jealousy, thwarted desire and poignant irony, The Devil in the Flesh. The fact that Radiguet died at the absurdly young age of 20 makes the phenomenon of his talent all the more affecting. Hi ...more
Jose Moa
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
It is posible to enter in the universal history of literature at the age of seventeen?,yes it is Raymond Radiguet has achieved it with this novel ,yet his life was short (1903-1923).In this beautiful novel written in 1920,located near Marne river,he whith autobiografical touchs ,tells in the exceptional circumstances of first world war,the appasionated inmature adulterous love between a sixteen boy and a married eighteen girl,a rebelious love agaist social convencionalism.The novel make deep ins ...more
Mar 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I bought this book out of curiosity: first, I needed something shorter to read on the bus; second, I felt like reading a French author. The references from the back cover of the book convinced me: a young author promoted by Jean Cocteau and Tristan Tzara.
I felt that this young man has somehow died of love, maybe suicide (but no, it was typhoid fever).
Of course, I could not resist to keep it only for bus-reading. I had to finish it at once. The book is very alert, very intense, with psychologica
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
'What appears dream to others...seems to me to be as real as cheese to a cat- in spite of the glass that covers it. If the glass breaks, the cat takes advantage, even if it is his master who breaks it and cuts his hand in the process.'

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 f
Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
This book really captures all of the fantastical workings of an adolescent mind in love. Whether this is a good thing I am unsure, but so many of the feelings expressed in this book are so genuine and feel so natural that its no surprise it is so relatable to so many. The insecurities of the characters are staggering, the interplay between the families is so expected by the reader and so unexpected by the main character. I just don't know if that makes it a good love story though. Personally I a ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank god I've read this as a twenty-five year old and not as a teenager--I have a feeling I would have been so distracted with a burning envy of Radiguet's precocious prose that my younger self would have missed how deeply felt this novel is in its elegant austerity. This is one of those situations where it is easy to be distracted by the biographical circumstances of the novel--written before the author was eighteen, immediately celebrated by Cocteau and the French literary intelligentsia of h ...more
Alor Deng
Every great author I read, seems to me like my former self of another generation. Laconic, understated, and pithy, this is a masterpiece.
Yukio Mishima, I read, was influenced a lot by this teenagers work. Well, upon finishing this book there is no doubt that he was influenced, and heavily at that. Mishima's style, especially in "Confessions of A Mask", is uncannily similar to Radiguet's here. I hail Mishima as the greatest author ever, where then should I place Radiguet? His prose and observati
Drayton Bird
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the most astonishing achievements in literature. He wrote two books - this was the first - before dying aged 20.

It is the story of an affair during the first world war between a 16 year old and a married woman of 20 odd. The ability of someone that age to describe the emotions involved so accurately, with such worldly cynicism in such detail is quite astounding.

Perhaps even more astounding is the fact that it is autobiographical. This was not discovered until 1954, when the husband - who
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The Devil in the Flesh" ("Le Diable au corps") is a French novel written in 1923 about a teenager who has an affair with a married woman while her husband is away during World War I. It was written by Raymond Radiguet, who was 20 at the time that the novel was published and died later that year.

"Devil in the Flesh" reportedly shocked the French people when it was published, perhaps not so much because of the idea of an older woman with a teenager as the idea that a French woman might be unfaith
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Neversink Library has published a lot of great books. Sadly, this isn't one of them. It's been compared to Bret Easton Eliss' book Less Than Zero. That's a very accurate comparison, they're both about stuck up rich kids and the lame tragedies they endure. I fucking hated Less Than Zero, this book was slightly better than it.. but not by much.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A love novel done properly! It revolver around 2 young teenagers too immature to know what they are getting theimselves into while violating society's normes in the name of their love. Main character's insecurities and delusions are presented in depth, and it is the most notable element of the book. Also, extra points for not making this love story moralistic or pathetic.
The self-indulgent nature of the narrator makes me want to knock off a star, but the truth and clarity in this book is worth the risk of inflating an imaginary ego. The story is almost ridiculous but also a perfect description of teen emotions, heightened by the application of them to a morally repugnant relationship.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skillful piece of writing about the pain of love and the careless and callous behaviour of a teenage boy. Francois is hard to like and although he's young and falls in love he's unaware of his real feelings until it's too late and oblivious to his actions and attitudes which over between childish selfishness and adult awareness. Excellent novel.
Michael Brown
May 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reads
He's 16. She's 19. Her husband is away fighting for France in WWI. They carry on a torrid affair and of course the inevitable happens. What are they going to do about it? The author, who died at the tender age of 20, wrote this when he was 17 based on an affair of his own. You want to despise him for seeming callous, but it is difficult when he speaks in such poetic terms. This is an intimate account that I for one would read again at a later date. Recommended for its brevity. More of this would ...more
Spike Gomes
Jan 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Exquisitely written for a boy of his age, this story is a veiled semi-autobiographical account of the author's own affair with an older woman who was the wife of a soldier. In a detached style, Radiguet dissects the feelings of the protagonist as he engages in the doomed relationship. Through it, we hear the voice of someone who is very much a young boy in his self-centered desires, inflamed feelings and capriciousness, but expresses himself in the voice and language of someone much much older. ...more
Ben Winch
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is impressive. Whether it could really have been written by an 18 year old I don't know; certainly Radiguet's friend Jean Cocteau must have had a hand in the editing, if not in actually rewriting it. But whatever the case, this is a timeless, potent and moving story the like of which I have rarely read - the kind that seems to level all others in its wake, to say, 'Experimentation is all well and good, but without a strongly-felt core it's nothing.' And if there's one thing this book has it ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Well, this book was clearly a sensation when it was published, but perhaps more because the publishers made it so, or so one reads.
Difficult to be honest, to read something as subtle as this, not in one's mother tongue, and also difficult to quite grasp what it must have been like 100 years ago in France...
This is a book very much of its time - probably interesting to read for those who are really interested in French life and literature at that time (Cocteau etc) but perhaps not at the top of
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Radiguet was born in Saint-Maur, Val-de-Marne close to Paris, the son of a caricaturist. In 1917 he moved to the city. Soon he would drop out of the Lycée Charlemagne, where he studied, in order to pursue his interests in journalism and literature. He associated himself with the Modernist set, befriending Picasso, Max Jacob, Jean Hugo, Juan Gris and especially Jean Cocteau, who became his mentor. ...more
“Facing death calmly is praiseworthy only if one faces it alone. Death together is no longer death, even for unbelievers. The source of sorrows lies not in leaving life, but in leaving that which gives it meaning. When love is our whole life, what difference is there between living together and dying together ?” 30 likes
“Instinct is ourguide; a guide which leads to our fall.” 7 likes
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