Querelle is regarded by many critics as Jean Genet’s highest achievement in the novel—certainly one of the landmarks of postwar French literature. The story of a dangerous man seduced by danger, it deals in a startling way with the Dostoevskian theme of murder as an act of total liberation, and as a pact demanding an answering sacrifice. “It is awesome, perhaps the finest novel I have ever read in my life. It literally sent shivers through me, the sheer beauty of the language, the exquisite perversity of the imagination, the incredible grasp of motivation—it is his most tightly plotted, best organized, most accessible novel. It is a wonder.” —Dotson Rader
This posthumous work brings together texts that bear witness to the many political causes and groups with which Genet felt an affinity, including May '68 and the treatment of immigrants in France, but especially the Black Panthers and the Palestinians. Genet speaks for a politics of protest, with an uncompromising outrage that, today, might seem on the verge of being forgotten.
“Genet has strong claims to be considered the greatest living playwright. His plays constitute a body of work unmatched for poetic and theatrical power which reaches, in at least two of the plays—The Balcony and The Blacks—a pitch of inspiration and mastery.” —Jack Kroll, Newsweek “In form, it flows as freely as an improvisation, with fantasy, allegory and intimations of reality mingled into a weird, stirring unity. . . . Genet’s investigation of the color black begins where most plays of this burning theme leave off. . . . This vastly gifted Frenchman uses shocking words and images to cry out at the pretensions and injustices of our world. . . . One of the most original and stimulating evenings Broadway or Off Broadway has to offer.” —Howard Taubman, The New York Times
An engaging and challenging introduction to Jean Genet, this concise biography of the French writer and his work cuts directly to the intersection of thought and life that was essential to Genet's creativity. Arguing that Genet's life was an extraordinary spectacle in which the themes of his most revolutionary works were played out, Stephen Barber gives both the work and its singular inspiration in Genet's life their full due. Abandoned, arrested, and repeatedly incarcerated, Genet, who died in 1986, led a life that could best be described as a tour of the underworld of the twentieth century. Similarly, Genet's work is recognized by its nearly obsessive and often savage treatment of certain ...
Excerpts from the novels, plays, and poems of the French convict, prostitute, and literary artist join notes from his film, The Penal Colony, letters, essays, and a rare interview, all edited by a contemporary biographer.
Jean Genet's seminal Our Lady Of The Flowers (1943) is generally considered to be his finest fictional work. The first draft was written while Genet was incarcerated in a French prison; when the manuscript was discovered and destroyed by officials, Genet, still a prisoner, immediately set about writing it again. It isn't difficult to understand how and why Genet was able to reproduce the novel under such circumstances, because Our Lady Of The Flowers is nothing less than a mythic recreation of Genet's past and then - present history. Combining memories with facts, fantasies, speculations, irrational dreams, tender emotion, empathy, and philosophical insights, Genet probably made his isolation bearable by retreating into a world not only of his own making, but one over which he had total control.
“One of the greatest achievements of modern literature.”—Richard Howard “A major achievement . . . . Genet transforms experiences of degradation into spiritual exercises and hoodlums into bearers of the majesty of love.”—Saturday Review “Genet can use a brutal phraseology that makes prison life specific and immediate. Yet through his singular sensibility, these elements are transmuted into something fragile, rare, beautiful.”—The New York Times “This book recreates for the reader Genet’s magic world, one of dazzling beauty charged with novelty and excitement.”—Bettina Knapp “Genet would have deserved international standing for this novel alone. . . . He succeeds to an amazing degree in creating poetry from the profoundest degradation.”—The Times (London)
The two plays collected in this volume represent Genet’s first attempts to analyze the mores of a bourgeois society he had previously been content simply to vilify. In The Maids, two domestic workers, deeply resentful of their inferior social position, try to revenge themselves against society by destroying their employer. When their attempt to betray their mistress’s lover to the police fails and they are in danger of being found out, they dream of murdering Madame, little aware of the true power behind their darkest fantasy. In Deathwatch, two convicts try to impress a third, who is on the verge of achieving legendary status in criminal circles. But neither realizes the lengths to which they will go to gain respect or that, in the end, nothing they can do—including murder—will get them what they are searching for.
A wildly fantastical and ever relevant dramatic masterpiece that reinvented modern theater in the twentieth century. In the midst of a war-ravished city, a brothel caters to the elaborate role-playing fantasies of men from all walks of life. A of the gas company employee pretends to be a bishop, another customer dons a judge’s robe, and still another acts a victorious general, while a bank clerk defiles the Virgin Mary. These perverse costumed masquerades parody and stylize the nature of the anarchic political struggle that rages outside, eventually convincing even the revolutionaries that the illusions are preferable to reality. In a stunning series of macabre scenes, Genet presents his caustic view of man and society. Deeply influential and widely acclaimed, Genet’s play maintains a profound and critical reflection of contemporary society.