Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr

ISBN: 0394715837
ISBN 13: 9780394715834
By: Jean-Paul Sartre Bernard Frechtman

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About this book

a selection from the beginning of the first section in Book I:? THE MELODIOUS CHILD DEAD IN ME LONG BEFORE THE AX CHOPS OFF MY HEAD Genet is related to that family of people who are nowadays referred to by the barbaric name of pass?istes. 1 An accident riveted him to a childhood memory, and this memory became sacred. In his early childhood, a liturgical drama was performed, a drama of which he was the officiant: he knew paradise and lost it, he was a child and was driven from his childhood. No doubt this "break" is not easy to localize. It shifts back and forth, at the dictate of his moods and myths, between the ages of ten and fifteen. But that is unimportant. What matters is that it exists and that he believes in it. His life is divided into two heterogeneous parts: before and after the sacred drama. Indeed, it is not unusual for the memory to condense into a single mythical moment the contingencies and perpetual rebeginnings of an individual history. What matters is that Genet lives and continues to relive this period of his life as if it had lasted only an instant. ____________________ 1 Pass?iste: one who is not adapted to the present age, who is not a man of his time, who "lives in the past."--Translator's note. ____________________ ? ? To say "instant" is to say fatal instant. The instant is the reciprocal and contradictory envelopment of the before by the after. One is still what one is going to cease to be and already what one is going to become. One lives one's death, one dies one's life. One feels oneself to be one's own self and another; the eternal is present in an atom of duration. In the midst of the fullest life, one has a foreboding that one will merely survive, one is afraid of the future. It is the time of anguish and of heroism, of pleasure and of destruction. An instant is sufficient to destroy, to enjoy, to kill, to be killed, to make one's fortune at the turn of a card. Genet carries in his heart a bygone instant which has lost none of its virulence, an infinitesimal and sacred void which concludes a death and begins a horrible metamorphosis. The argument of this liturgical drama is as follows: a child dies of shame; a hoodlum rises up in his place; the hoodlum will be haunted by the child. One would have to speak of resurrection, to evoke the old initiatory rites of shamanism and secret societies, were it not that Genet refuses categorically to be a man who has been resuscitated. 2 There was a death, that is all. And Genet is nothing other than a dead man. If he appears to be still alive, it is with the larval existence which certain peoples ascribe to their defunct in the grave. All his heroes have died at least once in their life. "After his first murder, Querelle experienced the feeling of being dead. . . . His human form--what is called the envelope of flesh-continued nevertheless to move about on the surface of the earth." His works are filled with meditations on death. The peculiarity of these spiritual exercises is that they almost never concern his future death, his being-to-die, but rather his being-dead, his death as past event. This original crisis also appears to him as a metamorphosis. The well-behaved child is suddenly transformed into a hoodlum, as Gregor Samsa was changed into a bug. Genet's attitude toward this metamorphosis is ambivalent: he both loathes it and yearns for it.

Reader's Thoughts


within the first 70 pages, this book helped me to decipher my complete modus operendi in terms of socialization. But, more importantly, it's a biographical dissection of a critical and controversial 20th century figure whom Sartre regards as the existential man-- within him, we can find elements of the existensial crisis in us all. Brilliantly written but incredibly dense, its something I keep returning to but cannot read continually without drying out or, conversely, exploding, my brain.


sartre writing on genet. need i say more?


Worthwhile to read but not as good as reading the great Genet. But it's nice to know that Genet has his obsessive fans. Sartre is a little too serious for my taste, but nevertheless a man of great taste in literature. Genet needed him at a time he needed friends. 'Saint Genet' is a saint, but i don't know if I want him in my house due to the fact that he will for sure steal one of my books or at least a fork and knife.


Part way through this beast of a brilliant book and to say I'm blown away by the psychological analysis which Sartre slowly unveils of Genet would be to water down profusely how I really feel.

Jessie B.

While parts of this book are a bit dated, overall it is a fascinating examination of an interesting author and I quite enjoyed it

John Wilson

Quite a long read - perhaps a bit long-winded - on Sartre's relationship with Genet. Mainly concerned with Sartre's concerns for the underdog. Very good on how Genet forged himself a sense of self in a world that had rejected him.


برای درک بهتر این اثر سارتر، باید با شرح احوال "ژان ژنه" و آثارش آشنایی داشت. ژنه که از نوجوانی به خاطر دزدیدن نان و چیزهای کوچک، بارها به زندان افتاده بود، هم جنس گرایی بود که نمایش نامه های نبوغ آمیز اولیه اش را در زندان نوشت. سارتر و گروهی از روشنفکران اروپایی، بیانیه ای صادر کردند و خواهان آزادی ژنه شدند. "ژنه ی مقدس" که به شکلی تکان دهنده، عریان به زندگی این نویسنده ی زندانی می پردازد، در اصل رساله ای ست بلند در دفاع از آزادی انسان. ژنه پس از آزادی، تا هنگام مرگ، در هتلی در مراکش زندگی می کرد و نسبت به فرهنگ و جامعه ی فرانسه ابراز تنفر می نمود. نمایش نامه های ژنه از آثار شگرف دهه های پنجاه و شصت قرن گذشته است. او که فرزندی نامشروع بود، و سپس "نویسنده ی دزد" لقب گرفت، در تمامی آثارش از دزدان و فرزندان نامشروع و فاحشه ها و همجنس گرایان سخن گفته و آنچه را به عنوان تهمت به او، بکار برده بودند، به عنوان پدیده های واقعی زندگی مطرح کرد، و تثبیت نمود. ژنه ی مقدس اثری ست شایسته در مورد یکی از فرزندان بزرگ قرن بیستم! اگرچه با تصویر جامعه ی فرانسه از ژان ژنه، بکلی متفاوت بود. ژنه که خود با تمام قد در مقابل ارزش هایی که او را محکوم می کرد، ایستاد، پس از آزادی از تماس با جامعه ی روشنفکری فرانسه نیز، خودداری کرد و معتقد بود که سارتر در این اثرش، نگاه ترحم انگیزی به او داشته است. در مورد ژان پل سارتر، مطلبی جداگانه نوشته ام؛در مورد "تیاتر ابزورد" اینجا را بخوانید

Banu Pluie

" Kibar zevkleri olan Culafoy ve Divine, biraz da azizliklerinden, hep nefret ettikleri şeyleri sevmek zounda kalacaklar; çünkü aziz olmak her şeyden vazgeçebilmeyi gerektirir."// Genet'in en büyük özlemi olan azizliğ tanımlar; kutsal kelimesine günah lezzetinn verilmesiyle elde edilen azizlik, Sartre'a göre dilinin en güzel sözüdür. Gerçeken de, en büyük kötülüğün tercih edilmesi en büyük iyiliğin tercih edilmesiyle bağlantılıdır ve bunlardan biri ne kadar kesin bir şekilde diğerine bağlanıyorsa, diğeriyle aynı ölçüde ilişki kurar. //

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