A manuscript of The Devil with the Body by Radiguet sold for more than 350,000 euros

This piece of literary history, which caused a scandal when it was released in 1923, went under the hammer at Christie’s on November 22. The novel was adapted for the cinema in 1947 with Micheline Presle and Gérard Philipe.

The first of two manuscripts of a novel which caused a scandal a century ago, The Devil in the body by Raymond Radiguet, was sold at auction for 352,800 euros, Christie’s announced on Wednesday. This is the second time that its owner has attempted to sell this piece of French literary history. The first, in 2015, it failed, the reserve price not being reached. The buyer is a private collector who insisted on remaining anonymous, Christie’s France said.

The prodigy writer Raymond Radiguet, killed at the age of 20 in 1923 by typhoid fever, left two novels which marked 20th century literature. The Devil in the body, published six months before his death, is the first and best known. Inspired by the author’s experience, it recounts the love affair between a teenager and the young wife of a soldier during the First World War. This dramatic story, which caused a scandal, was adapted for the cinema in 1947 by Claude Autant-Lara, with a legendary couple of actors, Micheline Presle and Gérard Philipe.

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The manuscript put up for sale is a first draft of a set of 13 school notebooks, or 241 pages, that Radiguet blackened in August 1921 in Lège-Cap-Ferret (Gironde). The heroine is still named Alice, like the young woman who fell in love with Radiguet, while she will become Marthe in the fiction. Some pages remain unpublished, others differ from the text finally retained. For example, Radiguet began his novel with a sentence that was ultimately crossed out: “At the age when one is no longer enough of a child and, yet, nothing else, I groaned at the idea of ​​a walk to take, as if I were the horse that should have carried us in the car“.

These notebooks come from the legacy of Roland Saucier, an informed bibliophile who managed the Gallimard bookstore from 1921 to 1964. A second manuscript of the same novel, its editing, has belonged to the National Library of France since 1983, thanks to a bequest.

At the same sale, a first edition of a work by Thomas and William Daniell which shows views of India in the 1790s and 1800s, Oriental Scenery, was sold for 604,800 euros, far above the upper estimate of 150,000 euros. Finally, a 1615 edition of the second part of the Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes was sold for 252,000 euros.

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