He is too young to go to war. In his challenging condition as an aimless teenager, he has an affair with the wife of a soldier who was at the war front. Becoming later a collaborator of newspapers, he comes into contact with the writers and artists of Montparnasse. After Alain-Fournier and Le Grand Meaulnes, Radiguet's novels are inspired by his teenage torrid emotions without being strictly autobiographical.
Radiguet wrote his novels on school notebooks. The first autograph draft of his great success, Le Diable au corps, has just been discovered. The first notebook is dated 20 August 1921. This manuscript is estimated € 500K for sale by Christie's in Paris on December 2, lot 65.
This manuscript includes 161 leaves, most of them written only on front side. With its many erasures and remorses, it is an irreplaceable witness of the literary process of the prodigy.
The young woman is named Alice after the wife of the soldier. By discretion, she will be Marthe in the final version for which another manuscript is known. In the earlier draft, the story stops when Alice becomes pregnant. The final version will extend the adventure.
Jean Cocteau was known as a great admirer of Radiguet. The surfacing manuscript has been written in four hands. In several places, Cocteau offered the benefit from his literary experience to Radiguet and corrected the inaccuracies in the text of his young protégé.