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Funeral Rites

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  31 reviews
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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1949)
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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, Naz...more
Feb 02, 2011 Sonia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: have
If I were to base my rating off of literary talent alone, this book deserves more stars than are available. However, I'm only giving it three stars because aside from the stellar prose, I really didn't care for Funeral Rites.

It's a bit confusing. The first half reminded me a bit of Sebold's Austerlitz due to the lack of "easy" breaks.

The stream of consciousness makes Genet's prose at times difficult to follow. There were times I had to flip back to understand the shifts from present action to...more
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 voi...more
One can't get better then Genet. A heartbreaking book on one hand and yet a reflection on the nature of evil on the other. Love is important in Genet's world, but it is also a journey of sorts from the darkest part of the heart to the other side. If you can get to the other side that is...
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.
Read it, wait twenty years and read it again. Brilliant. This book is vital, sublime, this book is perfect.
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 o...more
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 ta...more
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...more
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 bugg...more
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 h...more
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 ther...more
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.
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.
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.
i know i know. finally i've read another book. and well. this book was quite easy to read in a short time and a terrific book to read alone at a bar. actually, probably the only way to read this book. so if you've got some of that kind of time on your hands and want to read some excellent prose, pick it up.
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.
Juliette Jones
Nov 23, 2011 Juliette Jones is currently reading it
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...
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.
Brutal longing lashing the most unexpected transitions. Death-desiring love. Loss in the form of short acquisitions of life.
"Within them hatched an egg from which emerged an excitement charged with cautious love-making under a mosquito net."
Daniel Lee
A little self-indulgent on Genet's part, but as usual, some beautiful prose and erotic power.
The book reviews itself: "I'm drunk with life, with violence, with despair."
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.
Christoper Johnsen
Knocked my socks off. Wish I could have read it in French.
Just re-reread it. Destroys me every single time.
Dec 29, 2007 Skidmarquez rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the filthy minded and philosophically inclined
Genet at his best and most irreconcilable.
Dec 10, 2012 Zach rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
its parts are better than the (w)hole.
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Jean Genet was a prominent, controversial French writer and later political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing novels, plays, poems, and essays, including Querelle de Brest, The Thief's Journal, Our Lady of the Flowers, The Balcony, The Blacks and The Maids.
More about Jean Genet...
Our Lady of the Flowers The Thief's Journal The Balcony Querelle The Maids & Deathwatch

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“...the characters in my books all resemble each other. They live, with minor variations, the same moments, the same perils, and when I speak of them, my language, which is inspired by them, repeats the same poems in the same tone.” 6 likes
“In order to weep, I had descended to the realm of the dead themselves, to their secret chambers, led by the invisible but soft hands of birds down stairways which were folded up again as I advanced. I displayed my grief in the friendly fields of death, far from men: within myself.” 3 likes
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