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Querelle

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,209 ratings  ·  55 reviews
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 peril, Querelle deals in a startling way with the Dostoyevskian theme of murder as an act of total liberation.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published 1987 by Grove Weidenfeld (first published 1947)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,371)
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Tosh
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.
regina
Feb 01, 2010 regina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you liked the film POISON
Shelves: readagain
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 probabl
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Diana

Esta es la obra de un santo, una Anunciación dionisíaca. Parece que durante miles de años olvidé lo realmente importante. El cuerpo de un hombre, que es parecido a todos los hombres, a todos los errores amorosos que arrastro como lectora mujer heterosexual. El arrepentimiento es histérico, femenino, malamente católico. En Querelle no hay arrepentimiento por nada. Sí, hay melancolía superficial, pero la gloria es, aquí y siempre, la vitalidad. La pro-yección hacia una vida (y una literatura, una

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Don
I read Querelle after finishing Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (a must read), in which Steward tries for years to get his translation of it published in english, to no avail. Genet's book originally appeared in French in the 40's and Steward was simply too far ahead of his time in thinking that the subject matter would be accepted in the US. Steward, and several of his literary companions, shared a reverence for Genet and this book in particular….one going so far as to tr ...more
Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sorry or please
Recommended to Mariel by: the more you ignore me the closer I get
I'm not feeling inspired. I went to bed super early on New Year's Eve. It wasn't even seven p.m. yet. My big plans for the night was watching my dvd of Fassbinder's Querelle. I fell asleep some point. I felt overwhelmingly tired. Maybe waking up at 3 a.m. had something to do it. I still feel tired (same reason. Instead of early birds getting worms I just feel wormy). More than anything, my brain is pushing through extra brain fogginess. I apologize in advance if this doesn't make any sense (that ...more
Emily
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 fe
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Cameron
I was led to Querelle via Flowers and Thief's Journal. Querelle is a complex narrative of antisocial characters who have as many motives. It has a style peculiar to Genet, but I wasn't so keen on this book as the latter two. In the end I considered Querelle so antisocial that he would stop at nothing to amuse his desire for self preservation; a sad predicament that raises neither sympathy nor identification. This young man is evil and unlovable and thereby stands alone in the world with his own ...more
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.
José
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
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Lionzo
This book has very powerful elements to it and is filled with interesting sayings, perspectives, and mindsets.

I found the idea of having an antagonistic main character leading as a "hero" an interesting twist compared to other books I've read. This book was evil, lewd, it held nothing back, it was real--delineating the many feats of human nature, the ones often hidden.

However, the story isn't the best, the characters aren't really developing, and at times I asked myself "where are we going with
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Greg
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.
Chris
historical note, he was making fun of the closeted and muched adored french author pierre loti and his book my friend yves.
Mark
i'll quote directly from page 255. "this book goes on for too many pages, and it bores us."
Janarchy
Gay French maritime murder-porn! Pretty good read, too.
Tim
Mixed reactions to this book. I like Genet's writing. He's poetic. The writing is like sifting sand, swirling to form new mosaics. It shifts, revealing something just below the sand's surface and then shifts again. The landscape is constantly altered. I liked that. It kept the reading interesting although the writing felt weaker towards the end. I would open another Genet book.

I gave this one two stars, however, because I simply didn't like the story. The characters were emotionally underdevelop
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Jennifer Lauren Collins
The world of Querelle is immoral, erotic, and steeped in secrets. The prose is consistently poetic and sensual, alternately directed by characters lost to immoral behaviors and characters hiding from their own desires. And then, of course, the characters are all surrounded by sex and murder, if not directly engaging in both.

The back of the edition I own notes that the word "deals in a startling way with the Dostoevskian theme of murder as an act of total liberation", and the reference to Dostoev
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Mike
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 citie ...more
Tyler
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, th
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tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Well.. After 33 yrs or so of reading Genet.. I reckon he just doesn't do it for me anymore. The things that I probably found energizing when I 1st started reading his bks, the criminal philosophizing, is mostly tedious to me now. &.. the cocks.. oh am I sick of the cocks.. Do we really exist in a society where people can think of little else other than cock size? How boring. Big cocks & little minds.

I saw the Fassbinder film based on this bk when it came out, around 1982. Id' already se
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Ser
I had been meaning to read this for years, especially after watching Fassbinder's 1982 film adaptation, but I somehow never got to it. Matthew McConaughey's character in the amazing Paperboy made me remember the book again.

The story might be of interest only from a historic point of view more than anything else, as it's really daring for when it was written and it deals really blatantly with the themes of sex and violence. I found the writing rather messy, but there are passages that truly are m
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Jordan
Another lyric tale from Genet, featuring his twin obsessions of sex and death. Perhaps less transgressive than some of his other books, it’s still a beautiful read.
A
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 hottes
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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.
Jeff
Now that's what I'm talkin' about - page after page of brooding homoeroticism. Find yourself transported into the schemes, double-crosses, and deepest thoughts of the men in a French port city. And there's mansex, but it's not pansy sex, it's men performing sex acts with men, perfectly masculine stuff.

A straight guy reading this is like a straight guy wearing pink - some people may think this means you're gay, but smarter people know it's really a validation of your confidence in your identity.

Anu
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.
Gusta
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.
Daniel Lee
Oct 12, 2007 Daniel Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
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.
Joe
It isn't surprising that murder is represented as velvety and gorgeous, it is that Genet seduces you into believing this if even for a moment.

Should think a little bit about the where of this too--liminal places: port town, ruins, roadsides, evening, brothel (as heterotopia?).
Niklas Pivic
I was taken aback by this book, mainly because it was so original. It challenged me, which is always welcome. Still, I found the amount of sex distracting from the other stuff; that's on me. Still, it's a breath of fresh air, even 60 years on.
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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 The Maids & Deathwatch Miracle of the Rose

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“She was happy, and perfectly in line with the tradition of those women they used to call "ruined," "fallen," feckless, bitches in heat, ravished dolls, sweet sluts, instant princesses, hot numbers, great lays, succulent morsels, everybody's darlings . . . ” 37 likes
“Ah those knock-out body fluids: blood, sperm, tears!” 16 likes
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