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An engaging and challenging introduction to Jean Genet, this concise biography of the French writer and his work cuts directly to the intersection of thought and life that was essential to Genet's creativity. Arguing that Genet's life was an extraordinary spectacle in which the themes of his most revolutionary works were played out, Stephen Barber gives both the work and i ...more
Paperback, 156 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Reaktion Books
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I am not that crazy about Stephen Barber's book on Artaud, but I think his little book on Genet is a really great jem. Even Edmund White likes it - and he wrote a great biography on Genet. In fact I pretty much recommend the Reaktion Books Critical Lives series. All of them are super interesting, it not great. And this little Genet bio is pretty great.
A historical account of a whore's son who was left to grow up at an orphanage. From petty shoplifter to a blackpanthers sympathiser and finally an activist for the Palestinian cause. This book is a good start to familiarise yourself with the man behind his works that are not necessarily appealing to everyone. Very bold and worthy of respect and acknowledgement.
Basically, Genet was a thief turned literary/cinema sensation by being at the right place at the right time. Europe was crumbling and its aftermath left it open for his works (some of which he wrote in prison) to be exaulted. Stephen Barber writes less scholarly in this book, taking on a more dramatic tone, which is a nice change from his other writings.
This book is for those who always felt excruciatingly uncomfortable in Genet’s presence and yet cannot resist a certain (guilty) fascination with his life and work. The book is short and yet complete. (Fassbinder’s Querelle acquires a renewed appreciation after reading this book.)
A surprisingly critical and complex little biography of Genet and analysis/overview of his works. Genet is an author whose readers benefit from some context and critical insight, and this is a great place to start, especially before tackling Edmund White's mammoth bio.