Querelle de Brest

ISBN: 2070263290
ISBN 13: 9782070263295
By: Jean Genet

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About this book

Tous les protagonistes de ce drame naissent du brouillard de Brest, du soleil qui dore faiblement ses façades, et de la mer semblable au mouvement intérieur qui anime l'écrivain. Ce sont des miroirs se renvoyant des images semblables et contraires qui sourdent du même foyer où elles reviennent ensuite se confondre : Jean Genet.

Reader's Thoughts

Philip Bardach

My least favourite Genet work I've read to date. After having read his autobiographical-ish novels, it's inevitable that this would've paled in comparison. With that said, it's leaps & bounds over most literature I'm fond of.


1 star for being a disastrous editorial effort + 5 stars for its inimitably sexy style and transgressive genius = 3-star average.As with all Genet, I mostly had no idea what was going on (or why), yet I still was fascinated, aroused, and disturbed. Until Querelle, I had no idea a book could be both unreadable and captivating at the same time. Having now read the book, I can say that the deliciously surreal Fassbinder film of the same name) is unquestionably THE best, most "faithful" (and hottest) book-to-movie adaptation in the history of cinema.


What can one say of Genet? He was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, without a doubt, and possibly the greatest writer working in the French language since Gide to address issues of male sexuality in an unconventional, discursive, manner. However, a lot of his fiction to me is rather depressing—droll even in places—and this book was no different, though it did offer more realism and tangible detail than some of his other works. The port city of Brest is one of the more-gritty cities of France, a place always associated mainly with two things: military might (as a naval base) and crime. Genet well understands this and paints the city as the central character of the novel. With the city taking the lead, everyone else brings up the proverbial rear: sailors, naval officers, madames, et cetera. Petty crime and crime grand, it's all here. I'd certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in Genet or 20th century French literature, but I will admit it left me wanting in places. To write a literary whodunit or fiction that desires for nothing more than to be true crime, I would look to Hawksmoor, the 1985 novel by the British writer Peter Ackroyd. While we may not want Genet to be P.D. James, at times the crime aspects could have been played for more interest than they were. Or, perhaps it's just my own personal taste: I will say it's a powerful work and lacks none of all that makes Genet great, I just couldn't get into it as I've always desired to get into Genet's work.If you can read French, do read it in the French. Also, I expect if I read it over again, it will grow on me. There's a lot that's wonderful about this book but it's also trucated to me in places, and almost seems rushed sometimes. Still, it's Genet and could be no other.


Gay French maritime murder-porn! Pretty good read, too.

Daniel Lee

Genet truly put the "literary" in "literary smut" with QUERELLE. The prose is exquisitely elegant, like his other great works--Notre Dame des Fleurs, etc.--but the eroticism within the text that doesn't cross into the pornographic despite its explicitness is where the real art lies.

Morgan Gallegos

This book is beautifully written but is really really dense. It can be hard to keep up in the beginning but the story is fascinating. My only wish is that the narrative didn't jump around so much. The story lines become very confused which works well for the overall story but can be very difficult to read.


Theft. Murder. Sex. Ambiguous desires. Sailors and rough trade. One of my favorites.But poor Madame Lysiane caught between two brothers. Poor Gil Turko betrayed by his seducer.


Well, it is full of buggery, but it's so much more. And not just the notion that a body is nothing but scaffolding for a man's balls.


genet pushes boundaries in this novel as necessity and convention clash. the raw, bleeding tension and blatant disregard for the soft and fuzzy thrust deep inside me and kick started a hunger for faceless encounters in dark alleys.


I must admit that the plot was really mixed, but maybe I just should consider it as Genet's artistic style. The book is written so wonderfully that I can forgive the confusion caused by the plot. I loved the language and the way Genet describes his characters and their thoughts. Not to mention that Querelle himself is quite perfect, being sailor and a murderer and all.One of the best GLBT-books that I've read.


In other Genet books I’ve read the stories build out from some real experience of the author's. In Querelle the author weaves the story out of the whole cloth of his imagination. I found this approach somehow less satisfying.This metaphor-rich imagination treats readers to a steady rhythm of richly descriptive prose. Genet exhibits remarkable authorial control over his narrative, often intervening in it directly, and that, too, works nicely for his style. Though lacking a specific denouement, the final thirty-five pages are noticeably strong.But the plot feels like a sacrifice to the description, floating along too slowly in eddies of prose, and the story seems to drag a little in the middle. This plot is just thin enough to lose its thread, in fact, and I often didn’t know where I was in it. Characterization falls by the boards for the same reason. Genet goes on at length, and with too much repetition, about physical attributes. He depicts people descriptively, and thus externally. Although authorial control is Genet's strength, here it left me with little understanding of the many motives and personalities in play. The people in the book are too one-dimensional and hard to follow. Their over-the-top characterizations, though part of Genet's lush style, take caricature too much to excess and make it hard for readers to connect with the story. The minimal plot and surreal prose are part of the author's artistry. These devices work splendidly for many readers, who can easily be swept along on the intense verbiage, but it doesn't work so well for me. Again, I think that has to do with the difference between a narrative built of pure fantasy and one based in fact. Genet gets carried away if his feet aren't nailed to the ground, and sometimes even if they are.My advice: Read Querelle for its prose, but not its plot or characters.


Jean Genet's book was ahead of its time. Gays lived a very different life as compared to today. Monsieur Genet is a masterful writer and storyteller. I was intrigued and didn't want the book to end.


Al contrario de la mayoría de las obras de Genet, Querelle no se basa en aspectos biográficos del autor. La trama es "sencilla" en el sentido de que funciona como una base sólida que sostiene el aspecto psicológico de los personajes, pero también podría decir que la trama es muy compleja debido a la elegante, perversa y alucinante prosa de Genet. Uno de los elementos que más me llamó la atención fue el papel que juega Brest, la ciudad portuaria francesa, en el desarrollo de la historia: burdeles, naves militares, callejones solitarios, galerones abandonados... la materialidad del espacio funciona como una lupa que nos permite ver con más detalle el mundo subterráneo de violencia, sensualidad, homoerotismo, traición y camaradería que pupula sutilmente de la mente de Genet.Como es característico de Genet, el héroe es siempre en cierto sentido, un antagonista. Querelle es masculino, es fuerte, es atractivo, pero está más allá de la redención. Los vaivenes psicológicos con los que Genet intenta analizar las acciones de Querelle es un aspecto que vale la pena resaltar

Jerome K

Hmm... not one of Genet's best... Definitely not a good place to appreciate his work. I decided to read this after watching that strange Fassbinder film adaptation, which I thought was interesting until the totally anticlimactic ending. The novel has a similarly anticlimactic end. I don't know why this is is. Maybe Genet just ran out of paper.

Errol Barnes

It might have been my favorite Genet book if I could just get the cast of the Fassbinder movie out of mind while reading it. Don't see the movie first, it's a piece of shit, a worthwhile piece of shit (Franco Nero as Lt. Seblon was (the only) great casting decision), but don't ruin this otherwise pretty amazing book by seeing it first.

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