The tragic and complicated French romance about a teenage boy who seduces the wife of a soldier during World War I—and one of the most startling literary debuts of all time
A Penguin Classic
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 who is 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 can only hurtle towards tragedy.
Written in spare, haunting prose when Raymond Radiguet was still a teenager, and loosely based on his life, The Devil in the Flesh became an instant bestseller and its author was hailed as a genius, before dying tragically at the age of twenty. It is a work of startling imagery and subtle beauty about power, betrayal, and passion that expresses all the anguish and joy of adolescence.
“There is no doubt that [Radiguet has] a remarkable intuitive knowledge of human emotions and a still more remarkable style.” —The New York Times
“Unretouched and seems shocking, but nothing so resembles cynicism as clairvoyance. No adolescent before Radiguet has delivered to us the secret of that age: we have all falsified it.” —François Mauriac
“Passages of delirious sensuality . . . so assured that one wonders how he would have written in maturity.” —The Guardian
“A masterpiece.” —Jean Cocteau
“This young prodigy of a French writer was so shrewd, so ruthless, glittering and clever, so full of dawning marvel at the ways of the world, so freshly observant, that every page he wrote was a delight.” —Fay Weldon