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Raymond Radiguet

RAYMOND RADIGUET was born on June 18th, 1903; he died, without knowing it, on December 12th, 1923, after a miraculous life.

The literary tribunal has found his heart arid. Raymond Radiguet's heart was hard, and like a diamond it did not react to the least touch. It needed fire and other diamonds, and ignored the rest.

Do not accuse fate. Do not speak of injustice. He belonged to the solemn race of men whose lives unfold too quickly to their close.

Raymond Radiguet

"True presentiments," he wrote at the end of The Devil In The Flesh, "are formed at a depth that the mind does not reach. Thus they sometimes make us do things that we misinterpret....A disorderly man who is going to die and does not know it suddenly put his affairs in order. His life changes. He sorts his papers. He rises and goes to bed early. He gives up his vices. His friends are pleased. Then his brutal death seems all the more unjust to them. He would have lived happily."

For four months Raymond Radiguet became meticulous; he slept, he sorted, he revised. I was stupid enough to be glad of it; I had mistaken for a nervous disorder the intricacies of a machine that cuts crystal.

Here are his last words:

"Listen," he said to me on December 9th, "listen to something terrible. In three days I am going to be shot by the soldiers of God." While tears choked me, as I invented other explanations: "Your explanations," he continued, "are not so good as mine. The order has been given. I heard the order."

Later, he said: "There is a colour that moves and people hidden in the colour."

I asked if he wanted them sent away. He answered: "You cannot send them away as you cannot see the colour."

Then, he sank.

He moved his mouth, he called us by name, he looked with surprise at his mother, at his father, at his hands.

Raymond Radiguet began.

For he left three volumes. A collection of unpublished poems, The Devil In The Flesh, a masterpiece of promise, and the promise fulfilled : Count d'Orgel.

One is frightened by a child of twenty who publishes a book that cannot be written at that age. The dead of yesterday are eternal. The author of Count d'Orgel was the ageless writer of a dateless book.

He received the proofs in the hotel room where his fever consumed him. He intended to make no alteration to them.

His death robs us of memoirs of his development; three short stories; a long appendix to The Devil In The Flesh; Ile de France; and Charles d'Orleans, an historical picture, imaginary in the same way as the false autobiography of his first novel.

The only honour that I claim is to have given to Raymond Radiguet in his life the illustrious place won for him by his death.

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