ISBN: 0802151574
ISBN 13: 9780802151575
By: Jean Genet Anselm Hollo

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Favorites Fiction France French Gay Lgbt Literature Queer To Read

About this book

Querelle of Brest 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.Querelle is a young sailor at large in the port of Brest. His abrupt senior officer, Lt. Seblon, records in an elegant diary his longing for the young man. The policeman Mario, who frames his mates for stealing from the Monoprix, covets him. The brothel keeper's husband, feels entitled to possess him. The murderer in hiding, whom he nourishes, embraces him. Even the madam herself, despite her dispproval of his kind, becomes Querelle's mistress. 'His elaborate constructed novel about a sailor in Brest who murders and allows representatives of authority, like policemen and ponces, to act out their sexual fantasies on him is continuously vivid and varied...To ignore it would be a kind of treason to culture one inhabits' PUNCH 'In spite of the quality of the rapaciousness and lust-the corruption by both the establishment and the outsider, the characters in Genet's books all share a burning, tempestuous passion to live. For them, to do good or evil is part of the human condition-and to sin is better than to do nothing, because it means to exist. On the final count, Querelle of Brest stands for a great cry of affirmation on the side of life' THE SPECTATOR

Reader's Thoughts


As a straight man, I sure do have a love for Gay literature and Gay authors. Genet is just an once-in-a-life-time genius. "Querelle" is a magnificent book that is so iconic that I can't imagine anyone on this planet passing this book up. And again, i have a love for the twilight world that basically slips out of the pages in this book. Everything is sexualized to the max, and it's a work of great inner-world beauty.

Mikael Kuoppala

An intensely and beautifully erotic and poetically written novel that has its roots in existentialism.

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.

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.

Dominique Pierre Batiste

"Se brester, to brace oneself. Derives, no doubt, from bretteur, fighter: and so, relates to se quereller, to pick a fight"


It's been about 2 decades since i read Querelle, but the scenes and poetic style marked me like a tatooed sailor.Warning: the scenes are sexually and violently graphic.Yet, when the murderous main character describes how he felt when he killed..Well, it's mind-boggling that Genet could describe it so sensitively and beautifully. If you loved Todd Haynes' film, Poison, and if you love exploring the minds of the damaged and desperate--Querelle is the book for you. It is a master's work and probably deserves 5 stars; i'll re-visit and update. (BTW, fassbinder made this into a film , but its tone is nothing like the book. If you must see the film, read the book first. The book is not campy.)


I don't give out 5 stars lightly.the English translation of Querelle (originally French) is easily one of the best translations I've ever read. The lyrical beauty of the work remains wonderfully in tact. Querelle is super thick, rich, compelling, and dark. The filthy world of sailors and brothels lends itself to one of the queerest (here i meant "strangest" until I realized that it fully embodies both meanings of the word) things I've ever read. It's difficult, but so worth getting through. I feel bad on my 5 star ratings because I feel that nothing I could ever say would portend what lies between the covers of these books. But as of yet, its in the best 10 books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.


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.


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.


"The movement arched his entire body and made his basket bulge under the cloth of his trousers. He had at that moment, despite his being cloistered, . . . the nobility of an animal which carries its whole load between its legs."


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.

Ismael Schonhorst

A gay (literal and metaphorical sense) life prose-poetry: meaning, lessons and reflections about being.


The transformative power of murder. Narcissism as an act of spirituality. Very interesting but difficult to read (in the translation). The fact that it is racier than most of today's fiction while maintaining it's literary pitch is amazing. The fact it was written over 50 years ago is unbelievable. Not for the faint of heart.

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.

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.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *