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


One of the great works of twentieth century literature. Does anyone know why the Bernard Frechtman translation is abridged, omitting crucial scenes? I have the Black Cat press version, published '69, maybe the Grove Press rectifies the wrong.Genet's life project was to lift the poisionous veil of bourgeois/religious values from sexual love, in some of the most lyrical passages ever written in French prose. Most of this book is a series of sexual encounters between French resistance fighters, Nazis, and Genet himself, whose contempt for French society allows a curiously apolitical view of the historical events depicted. Genet mourns his fallen soldiers by writing himself through a series of violent sex dreams, resurrecting the dead on both sides of the barracades in an attempt to exorcise the trauma of his own long incarceration. It is impossible not to be horrified and equally impossible to reject Genet for reasons of immorality, although I suppose to most 21st century readers are too glib and detached and politically correct to experience in any way the power of this difficult novel.

Christoper Johnsen

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


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.


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


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.


It's difficult to describe the experiece of reading this text. It's so imaginatively rich, so personally intense and oddly, considering the subject matter, sincere. It seems to me that he takes high Baroque Catholic sentiment and uses it to describe things that no-one is supposed to describe because the experiences are deemed to be outside of "normal" moral behaviour. Yet he manages to transcend the disgust attached to these experiences and produces a prose of luminous beauty. The translation at times is a bit too much like 1930's American gangster films when it tries to convey Genet's use of slang, but no matter - the book is so unique, so exquisite, that it really has a soul of it's own.


didn't finish this one, but i plan to come back to it soon. the story didn't really grab me, but there's definitely something there... i wish i could be more specific but i guess i can't. also, the translation is amazing. i don't speak french, but i've rarely read a translation that is such confident prose in its own right.

Michael Miley

One of the most disturbing books I've ever read. I'll have to sit down and describe my encounter with Genet through the half dozen or so books of his that I've read.

Neil Munday

soul touching.


Genet has a unique way of mixing very dark images together, blending the brutal with the ethereal. Only Genet can talk about eating the flesh of his dead lover in one sentence and then about having sex with the Nazi murderer in the next. Genet admits, "...the characters in my books all resemble each other," and this is an understatement in this book particularly. However, the translation is a major problem and what the publishers deemed sanitized enough for audiences of 60 years ago is pretty tame by today's standards. If the so-called “dirty parts” were left out, one is left wondering what else [perhaps substantive] may have also been left out. I cannot say this is an easy read or one that I would recommend to most, but it is essential Genet.


Read this book while in college it was a part of two different classes.One was prison lit the other was gay lit. Seeing that i went to a Catholic college and both classes were taught by nuns I was shocked.An interesting book but very dark indeed.


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

Juliette Jones

So far... I'm just not sure. I have read several books in between what would be chapters of this book, if there were actually chapters. That might be the problem. I hate no chapters...

RK Byers

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


its parts are better than the (w)hole.

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