Genet: A Biography
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A meticulously researched biography of Jean Genet, one of France's most notorious writers. Acclaimed novelist and essayist Edmund White illuminates Genet's experiences in the worlds of crime, homosexuality, politics, and high culture, and gives a compelling analysis of Genet's plays, novels, and essays. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
known for years) was so obsessed with literature that he often preferred it to his police work. He sent a play (never staged or published) to Cocteau, who politely referred to it in his journal as ‘incredible (three acts)’.51 As Cocteau remarks, ‘Instead of listening (he has the flu) to Bussière’s report on the telephone, he said to Dubois: “Has Cocteau received my play?” People tried to speak to him about the bombings. “Has Cocteau read my play?” Again people insisted. “Do you know what he
Jean Decarnin promised to bring them together. Genet was living for the moment on the rue du Dragon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, but was soon travelling south. He paid a visit in April on Barbezat’s mother in Lyons. After looking around at her beautiful furniture, Genet terrified her by saying, ‘It’s very pretty here—I’ll come back later with some friends to clear it out.’ By 8 April, Genet was at Fontevrault, whence he sent Marc Barbezat a postcard showing the refectory of the abbesses: My old
passage in which Genet reports the death of Harcamone. The beauty of this passage is jewel-like, it is too rich and shows a rather cold bad taste.’86 Bataille’s strongest charge against Genet is that he refuses to communicate with his reader. Whereas passion in Bataille’s view always necessarily entails honesty, Genet’s sort of indifference to his subject (and hostility to his reader) engenders a style that is tumultuous and uncertain. What Bataille has done is to take Sartre’s characterization
whither he withdraws when he wants to leave the world behind for a temporary but deep solitude.’11 In ‘The High-Wire Artist’, written at about the same time, Genet again mentions that this ‘wound’ is ‘a sort of secret and painful heart’.12 In the presence of Giacometti’s statues Genet feels confronted with divinity—the same chill he experiences when he looks at a small, smiling, standing statue of Osiris.13 Giacometti posed Genet in a position close to that of one of his favourite figurines in
the house storming out while the radical half booed them. The next day the manager of the theatre cut many of the offending passages. Despite the scandal, the leading German playwright Botho Strauss wrote in Theater Heute: ‘The scatological language is not pathological jargon but rather at once the appropriate expression and weapon of this “filthy third world” in its opposition to the violent message of the “clean world” and its ideal of beauty and its narcissism.’5 The restless Genet travelled