Funeral Rites

ISBN: 0802130879
ISBN 13: 9780802130877
By: Jean Genet Bernard Frechtman

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About this book

Genet's sensual and brutal portrait of World War II unfolds between the poles of his grief for his lover Jean, killed in the Resistance during the liberation of Paris, and his perverse attraction to the collaborator Riton. Elegaic, macabre, chimerical, Funeral Rites is a dark meditation on the mirror images of love and hate, sex and death.

Reader's Thoughts


His writing is amazing and beautiful, but the subject is really over dramatic and boring. I felt like I was reading a child's journals re-written by an old pervert, or maybe an old pervert's journal re-written by a young adult with a depressive disorder. Either way, I sort of liked it- ish. I wish the content was as good as the writing. It does make me interested in reading Genet's biography and maybe reading another book of his to see if it might be any better.

Christoper Johnsen

Knocked my socks off. Wish I could have read it in French.


Read it, wait twenty years and read it again. Brilliant. This book is vital, sublime, this book is perfect.


"Within them hatched an egg from which emerged an excitement charged with cautious love-making under a mosquito net."


A friend of mine called Jean Genet "a dirty little Frenchman" and although he's so much more it's an incredibly good description of him. This is a long lament for Jean's lover who was killed in German occupied France during WWII. This was Genet's last novel and is a brutal, erotic, and disturbing look at the Resistance movement in Paris. It explores the themes of sex and death tirelessly and the thin line between love and hate. Gender and political lines are blurred in the relationships and buggery carried on by soldiers and fighters in the resistance. This book might certainly be triggering for many.


My, I read a lot of French literature (in translation) this summer - this one came from Josh Feldman's giveaway pile at last year's NYC Marathon party, but I only got to it after some improbable stylistic comparison emerged to someone else I had recently read - Clarice Lispector perhaps? Whoever it was, they certainly weren't offering 300 pages of rough trade sex that make William Burroughs seem circumspect. As such, it seemed long at times, but the master-slave dialectic of German soldiers in occupied WWII France adds a political dimension to the sexual one that is quite thought-provoking - also the writing is mostly brilliant. Mine is a 1969 Grove Press edition (which you know meant "dirty book" at the time!) with a fantastic black and white cover photo of the author by Brasseï.


Totally brilliant. Six stars if I had another. Somehow in his meandering and indeterminate narrative, in which sexuality and male homosocial behavior are generally at the forefront, Genet offers stunning insight into the rituals surrounding death and mourning and gets to the very heart of what loyalty means, in death, love and war. In this book "about" occupied Paris during World War II, Genet enacts the complete obliteration of empty nationalism, showing human violence for what it is.


Genet's lament for a dead lover told during the final days of Nazi occupation of Paris. The story winds its way in and out of fantasy in dreamlike ways, obsessed with eros and thanatos: the imagery is captivating and uncanny. Genet was a convicted murderer and avowed homosexual so not for all tastes.


As I so often write here, it's been a long time since I read this. Nonetheless, it's a no-brainer that Genet is, for me, a very important writer. There was a time when I lived in an apartment w/ only 8 key bks. "Funeral Rites", or something else by Genet, was one of them. The clear thinking & blatant perversion as a political act are right up my conceptual alley even if Genet & I are very different personalities otherwise. I'm happy to say that I still haven't read "Querelle" yet so there's at least one Genet bk left for me to savor.

RK Byers

this guy is ONE SICK DUDE! i'm gonna keep reading him, tho. he's good.


I found this book difficult to grasp and remain focused on.


Mourning is the gesture of recognition to the collapse of a lesser solar system. Genet is a shape shifter and this novel is a map of those people affected by, or related to the death of his lover. In order to cope with his grief, he imagines the interiors of the cast of souls related to the departed, among them the executioner, in Nazi occupied France. Genet veers from perspective to perspective, unannounced, desperately searching for a form or a logic of behavior where there has been left a void. Like a series of mirrors the novel folds and unfolds. Tying himself to every element, he suggests the possibility for empathy through narcissism. By seeing his own face in the faces of his lover, his lover's executioner, the soldiers lying quietly on the roofs of Paris, he is able to possess them.

George Ilsley

My first contact with Genet was the cover of this book sighted at a used book store. The cover shot of Genet somehow caused a gaydar ping. I bought it, and read it, and read it a few more times, and then always looked for more. Oh, Genet, I still chuckle thinking of you on assignment from Esquire being sent to Chicago to cover the Democratic National Convention and hanging out with the Black Panthers. None of that is in this typically hallucinatory book of course, but still, one can't think of handsome criminals being punished and executed all day. Can one?


its parts are better than the (w)hole.


Genet at his best and most irreconcilable.

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